Collecting on past-due accounts can be a nightmare, but you can increase your chances of getting what's owed you if you photocopy checks before you deposit them, says Ron Z. Opher, a collection attorney in Philadelphia.

"Many accounts that end up in collection have some past payment history," Opher says. "If we have the bank name and account information, we can dramatically increase recovery [once a judgement has been issued]."

Do you need to copy every check you receive? No, says Opher, just do it often enough to maintain current information on each customer. "At the outset, you don't know who will pay or who won't in the long run, so it's always a good idea to record the bank information at first payment, then review it upon subsequent payments for any changes."