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Small claims court is one of the great levelers, as long as you're literate, calm, and patient. Another one is the art of writing letters on actual paper to people. Because nothing says Serious Business like the magic words Return Receipt Requested.

("I paid the Post Office five dollars extra when I mailed this so that I have admissible proof you got the letter when I sue you for ignoring its contents.")

I used the (well-founded) threat of it to resolve some difficulties after some creditors got the mistaken impression that I owed them money. One letter to get them to stop calling me, one more letter to remind them that the three calls after the first letter mean they owe me $3,000 under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the meter is still running if they want to call me again.

My only regret is that I didn't have enough days off that year to march down the court and actually sue them. I think its... salutary to remind debt collection agencies that the legal system works both ways. For one, if more people did it I'd get less people thinking I owe them money because I share the same first initial, last name, and (former) zipcode as someone who might.

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