Reason #1. Let the debtor fund the the lawsuit against them.
Lawsuits cost money. There are filing fees, service fees, possibly deposition costs, judgment costs, and execution costs. If you can obtain payments early by working with debtors, you are in essence allowing the debtors to fund their own lawsuit against them. Of course there are exceptions, such as when it pays to be ahead in the line of judgment creditors. Most often, early on, work with the debtors to get some money out of them. Let the debtors make 1 or 2 payments to help fund the lawsuit you may need to file. Also, by getting payments early on, you can identify banking information, which can be extremely useful later in the execution process. Keep copies of any and all payments. Typically, I would only agree to payments if the entire debt will be satisfied in 6 to 12 months depending upon the amount owed. Remember, it will take that long to go through with a lawsuit anyway. Why not get paid while you wait?
Reason #2. Pennsylvania is not the easiest state to collect in.
Pennsylvania is not the easiest state to collect in. Marital property can be exempt and we are not allowed to garnish wages (with a few minor exceptions i.e. landlord/tenant). Pennsylvania requires that you rely heavily on each county’s specific sheriff’s office for executions, meaning that your collection attempt is often at the mercy of a single deputy who has the ability to help the debtor or to help you. I have heard of deputies we hired who provided debtors with valuable information to avoid the debt. The reason being is that it can make the deputy’s job easier. Pennsylvania debt collection laws actually favor debtors and provide yet another important reason to allow debtors to pay you voluntarily if possible. Of course, skilled Pennsylvania debt collection attorneys know how to strategically apply pressure, but can do so while being nice.
Reason #3. You will be paid faster and collect more by keeping all options open.
Do not be misled. You can be nice and still be very aggressive with your litigation. Once your lawsuit is filed, do everything possible, including discovery and motions for summary judgment as soon as possible to place legal pressure on the debtors. You can be nice while being forceful about the litigation. It is a mistake to make certain debt collection matters personal because anger and hostility in litigation can close payment options in the future. Debt collection is about recovering money owed as fast as possible. While forceful litigation may be necessary, keeping all options open is essential to increasing your odds of collection. Making it personal closes doors and gives the debtors another reason to make sure your debt does not get paid. Usually these debtors have multiple debts. If you remain nice, even through hostile litigation, you should be paid faster and collect more, than the typical nasty letters sent by lawyers.