If I’m not being paid for items sold tosomeoneout ofstatebut hehas failed to pay, how do I collect?

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If I’m not being paid for items sold tosomeoneout ofstatebut hehas failed to pay, how do I collect?

We made prior deals that went well so I trusted him to send the items before payment. We agreed on a deal on sports memorabilia. He sent half the funds, I sent half the goods. As he was sending me payment for the second half of the deal, we agreed to add a few more items and he would send payment for them later. I trusted him to send payment but he hasn’t and has basically gone underground. I am now out the memorabilia and the $700 owed me. I don’t know where to go next to try to get my money. Do I call the police in his city and state or in my own?

Asked on January 21, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, the police will almost certainly not get involved--they will likely treat this as a civil matter, not a criminal one. And even if they did get involved, the police punish criminals--they don't recover money owed to someone, at least not as their focus; so the police do not, as a general matter, help you get money which someone owes you.

To recover the money, you'd have to sue. Doing so is probably not worth it--for example, you likely cannot sue in your small claims court someone from out of state. Instead, you'd have to sue him in your regular county court--which is more complex and expensive--or in his local small claims court--which would involve travel.

Furthermore, even if you sue and win, if he doesn't pay you, it can be very difficult to enforce collections against an out-of-state person.

All in sll, there is no cost effective way to recover $700 from someone located in another state. While you can try a lawsuit, there is a good chance you will spend as much or more on the legal action than you can recover from the other party.


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