Chloe Meltzer | December 02, 2022
Summary: Are you convinced you're about to be served with a lawsuit over an old debt? Find out how to avoid getting served - the right way and the wrong way.
Being served with process means that you are being taken to court. When it comes to debt, it means that you have defaulted on your payments and a debt collector or creditor is attempting to bring you to court to force you to pay.
When it comes to being served there are a few methods in which they may attempt to do so. There are also requirements of the person serving the papers. First off, the person who is serving you with the papers must be at least 18 years old. There are also different requirements depending on the state.
If a debt collector has attempted to collect on debt but cannot, then there are usually other ways that they can serve you. Despite this, if you are looking to avoid getting served, there are methods of doing so. Although it may not completely stop the process, it may delay it a bit.
Essentially, being served is being told that you are being summoned to court and that you are being sued. Most Americans know what a process server is, mainly from television. Hopefully, you never meet a process server, but if you do, you will realize it is much different from what you see in the movies.
Typically in the movies, you will see a process server pretending to be delivering pizza, giving the papers, and stating “you have been served”. Similar to real life, those in the movies avoid being served and go to great lengths to avoid it.
Although this may work, there are additional fees and expenses that are caused by avoiding service. These may include additional service charges for process server attempts and can be charged to the person that avoids being served.
The first step to avoiding a process server and being served is to research the rule in your state. Check into the rules of civil procedure, as well as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if it is a Federal matter. This will allow you to know exactly what you are dealing with, and the consequences.
In some cases, you might get lucky and the process server may only be allowed to serve you. In other cases, they might be only required to post it to your door. In other cases, they may only be required to do sub-service. In this case whoever answers the door will be served and is required to give it to you.
You must realize that you can be served at your work. Even if sub-service is allowed, they can serve it to the front desk, or whoever owns the establishment. You can also be served with a notice on your door, in certain states. Despite this, it is considered an obstruction of justice to avoid a process server.
Don't answer your door to anybody. You should also let your family, roommates, and kids not answer the door to strangers. This is essential because if someone in your home states that you do not live there, they may not come back. They may then write it off as “non-service”. Be sure to keep the same story from one person to the next.
If you have visitors coming over be sure to have them let you know when they are on the way. You do not want to accidentally open the door to the wrong person. This also means you need to be aware of your surroundings. If you see a random person outside, do not open your door.
Consider telling your workplace. Tell your bosses, coworkers, and front desk personnel not to tell anyone asking for you that you are there. They should state you are unavailable. This will allow you to remain inconspicuous since it may be public knowledge where you work. They don't know your schedule and have no way of proving where you are. Despite this being a good way to avoid it, it may affect your work reputation which you might want to avoid.
Although going to court is never fun, it is not a good idea to avoid getting served. Avoiding being served does not mean that the case against you disappears. Even if personal service does not occur, there are other methods of proceeding with a case. Most states have laws that require multiple attempts to be done in person before moving to substituted service.
Additionally, failed attempts require documentation, and there are processes to submit all of this. Despite this, any good debt collector will put the effort in to serve you with an alternative method. In some states, it is legal to have documents posted on your windshield, or place mail on your door. This is why it is better to make a plan and respond promptly.
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.