Question: I recently lent a former friend $3,000.00. He said he would pay me back by now, but I remain unpaid. His excuses range from IRS problems to outstanding child support issues. I am pretty resourceful, and verified his tales of woe by checking online with the registry of deeds. The database shows some large outstanding tax and child support liens on his property. Outside of filing a lawsuit, how do you recommend I get repaid?
Answer: Where was your resourcefulness before you lent him the money? You should always research a potential debtor by running his name through the registry of deeds database, and even by calling local courts to find open cases or judgments against him. Finally, request a copy of his current credit report. This internet makes this process simple and quick. This research would have raised a huge red flag against granting such a loan.
His outstanding liens would have given you the perfect excuse to use when denying his request. As “friends” often do, he would have begged and pressured you to just give him the money. However, with proof of these prior liens in hand, he couldn’t have argued with your sound financial reasoning.
Unfortunately, your remedies are limited to legal action. You must file a lawsuit in the District Court seeking repayment of the debt. Typically, simple debt collection cases can be filed by an individual without using an attorney, but brush up on the procedure. Each county has a law library with do it yourself legal books containing the necessary forms. I hope that you formalized your loan in writing to eliminate his potential defense that you gave him a gift. Ultimately, your suit will be based on this conflict.
Unfortunately, even if you win, your friend’s outstanding liens practically eliminate the effectiveness of a judgment lien. For a hefty fee, a few aggressive constables may tow your friend’s vehicle and hold it pending repayment of the debt and his costs. Otherwise, you can call him before the Court for continuing payment review hearings. Here he will receive a meager monthly payment plan and a virtual slap on his wrist should he not pay accordingly.
Attorney James Haroutunian practices estate planning and real estate law in Billerica at 630 Boston Road. Contact him to begin an estate plan or with questions at 978-671-0711, hlawoffice.com, prioritylaw.com, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.