Collecting a Debt: To Certify or Not to Certify

In my previous post, I discussed the what documents are necessary to properly protect your money and then how to ask for the money back upon the loan’s maturity.

In this segment, I’m would like to touch on a topic that vexes my client time and time again: do they send the letter certified, by mail, or by email.

Certainly, sending the letter by email is the quickest.  What’s more, there is usually metadata that ensures that the parties know that the letter was received (i.e. a read receipt). The nice thing about email is you know the message was sent, received, and you can verify the contents of the message.

Sending the letter by mail is sometimes necessary pursuant to the loan documents.  You should check the deed of trust or any other loan document to see if it specifies how notice must be given.

Finally, my clients often want the letter sent certified, return receipt.  This costs a little more, but it will assure that the letter is not sent.

As a practice pointer, I advise clients to take a photocopy of the envelope before sending it and the contents, in case the green return receipt does not make it back for months.

Interestingly, I have several clients that believe they can just leave the certified mail in the mailbox and not sign for the letter.  Do not do this.  If you receive the letter, open it. Immediately.  Generally, a letter from a creditor or an attorney’s office signifies that the document is important.  There is absolutely no benefit, in my experience, of leaving the mail in the mailbox.  In fact, I’ve had several clients miss court dates and hurt their case by not opening important documents.