Key Terms You need to know for Debt Collection


If you owed money and are thinking about filing a lawsuit to attempt to collect, here are some key terms to become familiar with:

  • Debt/Delinquent Account/Deficiency amount: This is what someone owes you. The amount of money a person or company owes you.
  • Debtor/Defendant: This is the person who owes you money.
  • Creditor/Plaintiff/Client: This is the person who is owed the money.
  • Court Costs/Filing Fees: This term is used to explain the cost of filing the lawsuit and paying for service of court pleadings to the debtor.
  • Private Process Server/Sheriff Service/Certified Mail: These are methods to serve a debtor the legal pleadings. The type of service to use depends on certain facts and situations.
  • Contingency Fee: This is a fee structure where the attorney and creditor split the amount collected. Attorney does not get a fee unless monies are collected. This is the most common fee agreement between collection attorneys and clients.
  • Statute of Limitations (SOL): This is a the deadline to file a lawsuit. Each type of debt has a different deadline to file a lawsuit. If you miss that deadline, you are not eligible to file suit against the person or entity who owes you money. Some SOL are very short so do not sit on the debt and not do anything. Depending on the debt, the SOL starts at different times. Most common is date last payment made.
  • Judgment: This is the decision of the court on whether a person owes someone money or not. The Judge/Magistrate can give a judgment for Creditor stating the Debtor owes $X or could rule in favor of the Debtor.
  • Judge/Magistrate: A judge is elected. A magistrate is appointed by a Judge and usually handles less complicated cases. Most Small Claims courts have Magistrates vs Judges. Both can give final judgment.

Contact Perry Law Office an experienced Fort Wayne debt collection attorney today. Call our Fort Wayne, Indiana law firm at (260) 483-3110 to discuss legal collection services at any stage of delinquency. We offer retail (consumer) and commercial (business to business) Debt Collections.