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3 things you need to know about civil demand letters

When you walk into a store and loss prevention officers greet you, you may wonder exactly what authority these people actually have. No law enforcement agency authorizes them, and they likely receive the same low wage as the rest of the employees in a retail environment. Still, you do not want to find out what power they have and find yourself in a bad situation. 

If a security guard detains you and accuses you of shoplifting, though, there are a few things you should know. You may have to deal with law enforcement officers who are called to the scene, but alternately, you might receive a civil demand letter. Such a letter typically demands a sum of money paid to the store with the threat of further action if you do not pay it.

1. You can take further action

Civil demand letters typically outline the store's accusation against an individual and detail the value of the items that he or she allegedly shoplifted. The letter may then estimate the cost of the items as well as the expenses associated with managing the case and demand that you pay the sum noted. Legally, a company can do this and threaten to take further action if you do not comply.

2. The company may sue you

The phrase "further action" is intentionally ambiguous, so you may wonder what exactly will happen if you do not pay the sum demanded of you by the company. Typically, they may threaten to file a civil lawsuit in order to recover the value of the stolen items and the associated expenses. However, some people have sued large corporations such as Home Depot for threatening this.

3. Paying may resolve charges

Though receiving a civil demand letter is frightening, you should carefully consider whether it is the best course of action to pay the fines or risk being subject to further action. Simply paying may be the easiest thing to do, but it is a good idea to learn about other legal options you may have, first.

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