If I'm loaning a friend money, how should I go about insuring that I get paid back?
You need a written loan agreement which sets forth the terms of the loan: how much was borrowed; when it has to be repaid; the interest rate. Make sure repayments start soon, evern if only in small increments (e.g. $50/month)--that way, you will get early warning if your friend fails to pay. As soon as your friend misses a payment, sue him or her for "breach of contract"--the loan agreement is a contract--for all the money due to you. You can then garnish his/her wages, put a lien on his/her house, or execute on (have the sheriff seize and sell) any vehicles he/she owns, or levy on (take money from) his/her bank account. To facilitate collections if you have to sue, have the friend provide you his/her bank account information (which you'd need to levy on the account), a copy of any car's title and registration, and make sure you know where he/she works.