Collection without dunning - how is that possible?

Consumers might be surprised to receive a letter from a debt collection service provider without having first received a reminder from the original business partner. Many customers wonder: Collection without dunning - is that even lawful? The answer is: A collection order without a dunning letter for the creditor is possible under certain conditions.

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Collection without dunning: When does a collection case apply?

An undisputed and overdue account of the creditor forms the only necessary precondition for commissioning a collection company. This can be based on the delivery of goods or a service contract. If the invoice is due and the customer does not pay, a company can transfer its receivables management to a service provider and commission a debt collection company which will then write a letter to the debtor to inform him/her of the transfer to debt collection.

Payment default and collection without a reminder

Verzug ohne Mahnung

The debtor can default even without a dunning letter from the creditor. A fixed payment term or a fixed payment period has maybe already been agreed in the invoice or contractual agreement. If the debtor has not made payment by this date or before expiry of this deadline, he/she is in default. This does not require a separate payment reminder by the business partner. As a result, collection without a dunning letter is possible.  

Furthermore, the debtor defaults, at the latest, 30 days after receipt of the invoice. Unless otherwise agreed, this statutory provision applies. In this situation too, collection without a dunning letter from the creditor is possible as of the beginning of the default. However, consumers have to be expressly informed of this fact in the invoice.

Verzug mit Mahnung

Inkassounternehmen werden erst dann tätig, wenn der Zahlungsverzug eingetreten ist. Wurde kein festes Zahlungsziel bestimmt oder vertraglich vereinbart, kann der Gläubiger seinen Schuldner mit einer Mahnung in Verzug setzen. Hier tritt der Verzug ein, wenn der Schuldner die in der Mahnung festgelegte Frist ebenfalls verstreichen lässt, ohne zu zahlen. Wichtig ist, dass es sich bei dem Inhalt der Mahnung um eine eindeutige Aufforderung des Gläubigers an den Schuldner handelt, seiner Zahlungsverpflichtung nachzukommen. Manche Unternehmen versenden mehrere Mahnungen, bevor das Forderungsmanagement aus der Hand gegeben wird. Eine gesetzliche Verpflichtung, mehrere Mahnungen zu verschicken, gibt es jedoch nicht. 

Gewöhnlich kommt es erst dann zu einem Inkassoauftrag, wenn der Schuldner trotz Mahnung der Zahlungspflicht nicht nachgekommen ist und auf die Anschreiben seines Gläubigers nicht reagiert hat. 

Who assumes the costs of collection without a dunning letter?

The question of who assumes the costs is not based on whether a dunning letter was sent by the original business partner before the transfer to collection. Instead the decisive factor is default: Was the debtor already in default at the time at which the collection letter was sent? The default results in the so-called default damages, which the debtor has to reimburse to the creditor. In this context, all financial disadvantages which the creditor incurs because of the debtor's default must be reimbursed by the debtor. This also includes the collection costs - with or without a dunning letter.

What should you do in a case of collection without a dunning letter?

Apart from this, collection without a dunning letter from the creditor corresponds to collection with a dunning letter from the creditor. After the first letter from the collection company, the debtor should first check the claim asserted against him/her. After all, the debtor might have settled the invoice by the time he/he received the letter from the collection company. In this case too, the debtor should not ignore the collection company's request for payment but explain his/her view of the matter via phone, letter or e-mail.

If the account is still open, the debtor should settle is as fast as possible and remit the corresponding amount to the account number specified.