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How to Respond to a Sheriff's Note On Your Door

Hannah Locklear | December 11, 2023

Summary: If you’ve received a sheriff’s note on your door, there is a good chance you are being sued for debt. Ignoring the note can lead to bigger problems. Instead, you should reach out and respond to the debt lawsuit. You can represent yourself in court and file a legal Answer to the case with SoloSuit’s help—and win!

“I love coming home to a cute sheriff’s note on my door, notifying me that I’m being sued!” – said no one ever.

Coming home to a package or a little treat from your neighbor is always a fun surprise. On the flip side, coming home to a sheriff’s note on your door is just the worst. Upon closer inspection, you may realize that the note is a pack of legal documents notifying you of a lawsuit against you.

In this article, we’ll explain what you should do if you receive a sheriff’s note on your door and how to respond.

Use SoloSuit to respond to debt collection lawsuits in 15 minutes.

Why would a sheriff leave a note on my door?

Normally this occurs when a lawsuit has been filed against you.

You might be sued by one of your creditors, like a bank or credit card company. It could also be a lawsuit from a debt collector who has acquired your debt account.

Either way, the sheriff often has the responsibility to serve you with the legal documents that initiate a lawsuit. These documents are called the Summons and Complaint (also known as a Petition in some states).

Each state has unique laws on service of process. Some states require that legal documents be delivered face-to-face, while others only require delivery to the proper address via certified mail or delivery to a competent person over 18 years of age. Check your state’s laws here.

This situation can also arise from your landlord as a result of non-payment or late payment of your rent. In any case, it is in your best interests that you address this notice as soon as possible. But how?

What to do if the sheriff leaves a note on your door

When the Sheriff's deputy arrives at your home and there is no answer, they will leave a note for you to call their office. This means that the sheriff is trying to serve you legal papers.

At this point, you have two options: ignore the note or call the sheriff’s office.

You should not ignore a sheriff’s request to call. Ignoring the note can cause bigger issues. They may try to serve you at home again, at your workplace, or by some other means. And if the sheriff has proof that you avoided service, they can report it to the court. This may lead to the judge granting an order against you in the case.

If you decide to call the sheriff’s office, they will most likely set up a time to serve you the papers. While no one wants to receive notice of a lawsuit, it’s actually in your best interest to set up a date and time for service. It will help you keep track of how many days you have to respond to the lawsuit.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Example: Laura, who lives in Alabama, comes home from work one day to find a sheriff’s note on her door. She calls the sheriff’s office, who tells her they were trying to serve her court papers. Laura finds out she is being sued by a debt collector for an old debt of $3,000. She schedules a date and time to receive the court Summons and Complaint at home. From this date, Laura has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit, according to Alabama law. She uses SoloSuit to draft and file an Answer into the case, denying most of the collection agency’s claims against her. After a few months, Laura is relieved to hear that the case has been dismissed.


At this point, you’re probably wondering how to respond to a debt lawsuit. Keep reading to learn more.

Respond to a debt lawsuit when you receive a sheriff’s letter for debt

As we’ve mentioned before, a sheriff will likely leave a note on your door if a creditor or debt collector is trying to sue you for debt.

When you get sued for debt, you have to respond to the Summons and Complaint before your state’s deadline. Failure to respond will usually lead to a default judgment ordered against you.

With a default judgment granted, creditors and debt collectors can pursue other means to collect the money you owe, like garnishing your wages, seizing your property, or freezing your bank account.

Avoid a default judgment by filing an Answer to the lawsuit with these three steps:

  1. Respond to each claim against you.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses.
  3. File the Answer with the court, and send a copy to the opposing lawyer.

SoloSuit can help you draft and file an Answer to a debt lawsuit in all 50 states. All you have to do is respond to a series of questions about your case, and our software will automatically generate a customized response for you.

The Answer includes your responses to each claim against you, your defenses, and a certificate of service. It’s a great way to represent yourself in court and save yourself the cost and stress of finding a lawyer to take on your case.

Check out this video to learn more about these three steps:

Don't ignore a Summons. Respond to a debt collection lawsuit with SoloSuit.

Get help if you find a sheriff’s note on your door

One such action is to contact SoloSuit. SoloSuit offers a free resource tool for American consumers that have any issues with debt collection, helping them navigate through the legal waters of being sued for debt. At SoloSuit, we have multiple resources that can assist any individual with their specific needs.

It would be beneficial to find out every path available to you if you find yourself the holder of a note from the Sheriff's office. This is where SoloSuit can help you. They say knowledge is power. Why not arm yourself with the most knowledge for your specific situation?

Gathering information is your best bet to prepare a plan on how to address the creditor or debt collector. The initial choice is simple once you have received a note from the Sheriff. You can ignore it or you can take action. Let SoloSuit provide you with the information you need to make the best choices going forward.

Protect your assets by filing a response with SoloSuit.

Settle your debt after receiving a sheriff’s notice on your door

Contacting the creditor or debt collector is the best avenue towards resolving this situation. The fact that your local Sheriff's office is attempting to serve a Summons on behalf of a creditor does convey that the debt has reached a critical point.

Receiving a note from the Sheriff may be the last opportunity for an individual to avoid having to go to court. While the creditor or collector has signaled their intent to go to court to obtain a judgment against you, there may be sufficient time for you to address this situation before the account ends up with a judgment against you.

You can reach out to your creditor or the collection agency at any stage in the debt lawsuit process to discuss settling the debt. If you have enough money saved up to pay off a portion of the debt all at once, there is a good chance you can reach a settlement agreement.

Check out our guide on how to reach a debt settlement for less.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

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Not sued yet?

Use our Debt Validation Letter.


Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.


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