What to do about a civil demand notice?

UPDATED: Jan 19, 2011

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What to do about a civil demand notice?

A demand of $375 was made to my 19 year old son for merchandise valued at $65.63. We have tried the telephone numbers but either no one answers or mail box is full. They also claim this will not prevent any legal action. What should he do? He has no job and cannot pay. The first demand is $58.57 for 7 months.

Asked on January 19, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

In these type cases, civil demands are routinely made. However, they are rarely acted upon.  As a ppractical matter, your son's chances of being sued are virtually zero.  Consequently he can ignore this letter if wants.  Yet, be aware that if he doesn't pay this first demand he will get second, and for possibly an even higher amount.  Again, he can ignore it if he chosses.  However if, at that point, you decide to make payment, pay no more than $50 or so.  Put this in a letter to them - do not speak with them directly.  These people are known for their threatening and intimidating tactics. 

Additionally, if you do choose to pay prior to your son's juvenile court appearance, keep proof of the payment.  In such cases the court may order restitution (if damages occurred), so if you pay the amount requested in the civil demand letter, you can prove that no additional restitution is owed.

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