My USA Debtor is Missing, What Should I Do?

by Mary
(Shanghai, China)

I am a native Chinese, and being owed over USD 80000 by a USA company, but now they disconnected the phone, and refused to give me any reply for my email. So what could I do to get my money back if the debtor is mean to missing?

Comments for My USA Debtor is Missing, What Should I Do?

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Dec 23, 2009
Collecting a debt in the U.S.
by: Gerri

I am afraid it doesn't look good. It is my guess that your client has gone out of business and collecting will be difficult if not impossible.

Generally when someone in the U.S. is owed money and they can't collect money owed them, they hire a collection agency. The collection agency will try to find the debtor and then try to collect.

However, you will have to pay the collection agency something for their time and effort. Sometimes the agency will take a percentage of what they collect, but they may also require you to pay an upfront fee, depending on the situation.

Sometimes we hire attorneys to try to collect, or to take the debtor to court. But that will require you to pay the attorney at least some money up front.

We have an expression in the U.S. called, "Throwing good money after bad." It means that sometimes you may spend more money trying to go after money you've lost, and just waste more money.

I realize this is a lot of money, but whether this is worth more time and effort depends on:

1. The contract you have with this company and whether it can be enforced. I have no idea whether that is the case since you are overseas.

2. Whether you are going after a company (which could be out of business) or whether you have a personal guarantee from the owners (which could be helpful but only if they have money or assets that you could go after).

You'll find more information about commercial (business) collection services at DNB's website. They are one of the largest commercial credit reporting agencies and may have some helpful tips for you.

In the future, it is important for you to make sure you either get payment up front. Or at a minimum, you should carefully check the credit of your business customers in the U.S., and consider hiring an attorney to help you write your contract.

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