When shoplifting occurs the store has two options. It can call the cops who will arrest you and later the DA will decide whether to press charges. In addition and at the same time their Loss Prevention Department can send you a letter demanding that you pay them damages in an amount specified by statute. Usually these demands are low enough that the store will never bother trying to collect their penalty and I routinely advise clients to ignore them. When you do that, the civil demand will usually be assigned to a law firm to collect. What risks do you run by not paying them?
Palmer, Reifler & Assoc
If you receive a letter from a law firm it will likely come from Palmer Reifler & Associates. It will be very demanding, and create the impression that you face a civil lawsuit. Worse than that, the implication of these letters is that if you pay them you won't be prosecuted. If that's the impression they mean to create it is civil extortion.
Threatening letters is about all these guys do. They demand civil damages from poor people who really can't afford to pay it. If you doubt me google their name and look for the class action lawsuits filed against them. Will they sue you? It's very unlikely. They prefer quick money from frightened people rather than going through a prolonged trial process or even small claims court. If they continue to harass you have an attorney write them a letter with some teeth in it. These snakes will slither away.
Nate Reiffler's Response
Nate Reifler recently sent me a letter asking that I not describe his firm as I have. I asked him for documentation showing that I am wrong in what I have stated here. Specifically I wanted to know if his firm had ever sued anyone in CA. I received some documents on the legality of what his firm does but no proof that they have ever sued anyone. Safe to say with certainty now that you can ignore his nasty letters.
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