If the person who owes you money disputes the debt, you can take them to a Disputes Tribunal, provided the sum involved is under $15,000 (or $20,000 if both of you agree to go to the tribunal).

If calls and letters get nowhere, you could ask a lawyer to write to the debtor. Check the cost first: it could be expensive.

You can use a debt collector, although some don't accept one-off jobs. Shop around. A combination of up-front fee plus commission on money collected (sometimes up to 30 percent) is common.

Make sure you know exactly what you'll get. Many small business people have been dissatisfied with debt collection services or have been charged more than they expected. If you use a smaller agency, stick to a member of the Associated Credit Bureaux NZ Inc, which has a code of ethics and operating procedures.

You could take court action. If you don't have time to pursue it yourself, your lawyer can estimate the costs of doing it for you. This won't be worthwhile for very small debts.

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