Cliff Ennico

--Notify His Credit Bureau. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and report your claim. For instructions, see

--Flame Him Online. Go to the Better Business Bureau (, Yelp (, Craigslist ( and other online review sites, and post a short description of what happened. Be sure to stick closely to the facts -- if you don't you may be opening yourself up to a lawsuit for libel or slander. Also keep your anger at bay: An online posting that is too emotional makes you look like a crazy person and won't be taken seriously.

--Sue Him Anyway. Bring a small claims court action in the county where the deadbeat lives. Get a judgment, then write up a press release and send it to every newspaper within 100 miles of the deadbeat's home or place of business. You may also get an execution from the court which might -- might -- allow you to garnish the deadbeat's wages, put a lien on his house and otherwise make his life miserable.

--Put a Mechanic's Lien on His Property. If you are a contractor and did work on the deadbeat's home, you may be able to put a mechanic's lien on his house which will have to be removed when he sells the property or refinances his mortgage. Talk to a lawyer first, though -- most states have restrictions on your ability to file a lien, including (in many states) a very, very short statute of limitations.

--File an Involuntary Bankruptcy Petition. If the deadbeat is a business that owes you more than $14,425 and doesn't dispute your claim, you may be able to force it into bankruptcy by filing an involuntary bankruptcy petition.

--Call His Relatives. Don't be afraid to contact the deadbeat's spouse, ex-spouse and other adult relatives. Especially if the deadbeat is under the age of 30, a call to the deadbeat's parents telling them you plan to file theft of services charges against their child is very likely to generate a quick response. Again, be sure to stick closely to the facts, and remember, a deadbeat's relatives are not legally required to pay your debt unless they personally guaranteed it in writing.

Cliff Ennico ( is a syndicated columnist, author and former host of the PBS television series "Money Hunt." This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at



Cliff Ennico

Cliff Ennico's "Succeeding in Your Business" column offers straightforward small business advice and tips

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