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When may I pursue a debt from a nonpaying customer?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2022 | Business Litigation

Oregon’s statute of limitations for pursuing an unpaid contractual debt is six years. The timeline starts on the date that your customer defaulted or breached an agreement to pay. You may contact a customer to discuss an outstanding account. You may not, however, enforce an action without first obtaining a court-ordered judgment.

The Oregon State Bar notes that a commercial or business contract is enforceable when in writing. If a written agreement specifies an amount a customer must pay for goods or services, a requirement does not exist to accept a lesser amount. Your contract may also state how much a customer may pay in late fees or penalties.

Legal options to collect an unpaid debt

To compel a nonpaying customer to act, you may need an experienced attorney to represent you. As reported by Business News Daily, sending a demand letter may result in your customer’s payment without resorting to a lawsuit.

A demand letter may become a legal document, which requires an attorney’s letterhead. If your customer ignores your demand letter, you may consider filing a legal action through the court. The time and costs of a trial generally need to fall below the amount that you expect to recover.

Other options to receive a balance owed

If collecting an unpaid balance is not a priority, you may consider other options to maintain the relationship. You may, for example, contact the customer and discuss payment arrangements. A new or revised agreement may specify a workout plan and become enforceable.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests factoring invoices. Factoring companies generally pay a discount for an invoice and then collect the debt from customers for themselves.

Several options exist to collect unpaid balances from nonpaying customers. Whether a friendly reminder, demand letter or an official complaint, an attorney could assist you under Oregon’s debt collection laws.