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How to write a letter to someone who owes you money

Updated March 16, 2017

If someone owes you money (a "debtor") and is late paying you back, it may be time to take action. The law can afford you a legal remedy but that often requires hiring an attorney to file a formal lawsuit. You could try to send a demand letter prior to initiating a lawsuit. According to Nolo, a legal information website, demand letters result in successful resolution of cases "in as many as one-third of all potential disputes."

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  1. Format the letter like a business letter and address it formally. Include your address at the top of the page. Underneath your address, write the name and address of the debtor. Begin the letter with a formal "Dear Mr./Mrs." followed by the person's last name.

  2. Review the facts giving rise to the debt. Be polite, but firm, in your tone. For example, if you are writing with regard to a personal loan, you could begin by saying: "As you are aware, on [date] you contacted me for help regarding your delinquent car payment. I lent you the sum of [dollar amount] and you promised to pay back the money within [time period]."

  3. Demand payment and specifically state any time tables. According to the Nolo website, you should request a specific resolution, such as asking the debtor to pay you a specific sum by a certain date.

  4. Close the letter by indicating that it is in the debtor's best interests to resolve the matter quickly and privately, but that you are prepared to take the matter to court if necessary.

  5. Print two copies of the letter: one for the debtor and one for your records. Use professional-grade paper. Sign and date the letter.

  6. Tip

    A demand letter may be used by either party in court if a lawsuit is filed. To protect your interests, consider hiring an attorney to draft the letter for you.


    This article was written for informational purposes only. It does not offer legal advice. Readers with legal issues should seek assistance from an attorney in their area.

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Things You'll Need

  • Debtor's contact information
  • Terms of the debt

About the Author

Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.

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