How do I collect a small debt in Virginia?

Question:  I loaned an ex-friend $800 two years ago and she hasn’t paid back a penny. What process do I go about getting my money?

Answer:  Unfortunately, it is time consuming and expensive to collect a small debt. First, one must file and serve a Warrant in Debt. Second, he must appear in court for either the civil return date, the trial date, or both. Third, if one successfully proves that he is owed the debt and wins a judgment, he has to collect on the judgment. Collection requires a creditor to file for Interrogatories, a Garnishment (to garnish the debtor’s bank account or wages), or something else. However, if the debtor doesn’t have a job or a bank account — or has so few assets that they are protected — then the debt may be ultimately uncollectible. Going forward, one should follow the general principle of “do not loan money to a friend without assuming that it is likely to turn into a gift.”