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What happens if I ignore a 'settlement fee' letter from lawyer for shoplifting?

Waterloo, IA |

A friend went to exchange a damaged item without a receipt. He couldnt so he decides to repurchase the item, & return the damaged one with new receipt. First he considers theft, but at the end he puts the item among the other things to pay. Somehow it doesn’t get scanned & he doesnt pay for it. While leaving the store to go get the original damaged item, he was stopped by mall security & taken to the backroom. There was no charges/arrest, but he was banned from the mall for a year. He was told if they find a damage, he will receive a letter. He received one from a lawyer for settlement fee for $595 due 10 days. The item was fully recovered & no damages (worth $40). Can he fight this? He is a student living on loan, he doesnt have the money. Can he ignore it? Will there be criminal charges?

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Attorney answers 1

Posted

Iowa law allows merchants to recover the reasonable costs ssociated with theft prevention. The merchant would have to file a small claims lawsuit to recover the costs if they are not paid voluntarily through a settlement. Some merchants will file a small claims action. Some will not.