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Collections Companies - how to sell unpaid invoices?

I'm a younger solo and have a constant problem with clients who take forever to pay. Until recently, I figured my only recourse would be to threaten small claims, which takes time and money and isn't really that much of a threat. I recently spoke with a colleague who said she uses a collections agency that will pay her 60-70% of the debt. This would be a tremendously valuable asset, as the threat of sending a matter to "collections" would have more teeth, and would also get me paid. I tried to do a quick Google search on collections companies, and was immediately overwhelmed.

Does anyone have any advice on companies, who to use, major players, how the rates work, etc.? Any feedback would be sincerely appreciated.

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