What is sewer service?

Chloe Meltzer

January 31, 2022

Summary: In a court of law, sewer service is the act of intentionally failing to serve a notice of complaint to a defendant.

When it comes to being served with a debt collection lawsuit, there are measures in place that need to be upheld. One such measure is the proper service of court documents to the opposing party. In the realm of civil litigation, sewer service is the term used to describe failing to serve a notice of complaint on a debtor.

There's a reason they call it sewer service—it's a pretty crappy thing for a creditor to do.

What is sewer service?

In a court of law, sewer service is the act of intentionally failing to serve a notice of complaint to a defendant. The defendant is often the one in debt, and if the plaintiff (usually a debt collector or law firm) does not properly serve them, it is sewer service.

When filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff usually must include an affidavit stating the defendant has been served. In sewer service, the plaintiff lies on the affidavit: the defendant wasn't properly served and may not know about the lawsuit. When the defendant does not appear in court, the collector would be awarded a default judgment. This can lead to garnishment of wages and other issues for the defendant, which is unfair if they were never notified of the lawsuit.

How sewer service affects consumers

Sewer service is a deceptive practice. It leaves consumers at a completely unfair advantage because a defendant cannot fight a lawsuit that they don't even know exists, and failure to appear in court will automatically result in a default judgment. Default judgments can lead to serious complications for the consumer. Such complications may include:

  • Wage garnishments
  • Bank account seizures
  • Damaged credit scores
  • Additional fees

Sewer service is unlawful

Sewer service violates the rules of civil procedure for most states, usually Rule 4, which outlines the law surrounding proper service. You can double-check your state's service laws under Rule 4 here.

Sewer service is arguably a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Because of this, you can sue or countersue a collection agency if you're a victim of sewer service. Unfortunately, this type of service has become a common practice, but if you know your rights under the FDCPA, you will know what actions you can take.

Illegal actions under the FDCPA

  • Failing to send a written debt validation notice: Any debt buyer or collector must send you a written debt validation notice within 5 days of your initial communication. They must also give you a notice of your right to dispute the debt within 30 days. If this is not done, then it means you have not been given proper notification.
  • Asking you to pay more than you owe: Debt collectors are not allowed to lie to you in any way, or make it seem as though you owe more debt than you do.
  • Asking you to pay illegal interest, fees, or expenses: Sometimes, a debt collector may not be allowed to ask you to pay anything extra that is not in your original credit agreement. This includes extra interest, fees, or expenses. That said, many contracts allow the collector to sue for collection expenses.
  • Calling repeatedly: Under the FDCPA, harassment is a violation. This means constant or repeated calls are not allowed.
  • Using obscene, profane, or abusive language: Similar to harassment, any form of threatening language is not allowed.
  • Calling at odd hours: Debt collectors may not call whenever they wish as this would compromise your sanity. Generally, odd hours include before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm. The only time that is appropriate is if you ask them to call during these hours.
  • Calling you at times that are known to be inconvenient: If you work at certain times and it's not appropriate to call, letting a debt collector know this means they are required to respect it.
  • Using or threatening to use violence for not paying the debt.
  • Threatening action they cannot or will not take: This might include threatening arrest, or suing you if this is not legally possible.
  • Telling a third party of your debt: Legally debt collectors are not allowed to tell anyone else about the debt you owe. The only person they are allowed to discuss it with is your lawyer, creditor, creditor's attorney, or your spouse.
  • Repeatedly calling a third party to get your location information: Although they are allowed to contact a third party reasonably, they may not contact them more than once.
  • Contacting you at work: Any attempt to contact you at work when they are aware it is not allowed is a violation.

What to do when sewer service occurs

If you believe that you are being sued for debt and you were not properly notified, or worse, a default judgment has been placed against you, then you need to take action.

If you have already lost the lawsuit by default judgment, then you can file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment.

If the deadline has not passed to respond to the Complaint, then you can file an Answer arguing you should win because of improper service.

infographic of what I should do after sewer service.

SoloSuit makes it easy to do this.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit helps people fight debt collectors. We have everything you need to win. How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web app that makes it easy to complete a Debt Validation Letter.

Respond with SoloSuit

"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


Get Started


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

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

SoloSuit can help you file an Answer in all 50 states.

How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state
Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

Guides on how to beat every debt collector

Being sued by a different debt collector? We are making guides on how to beat each one.

Win against credit card companies

Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.

Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips

How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts

How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide

Get answers to these FAQs

Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.

Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?

How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?

What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?

Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?

SoloSuit FAQ

If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?

Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?

Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?

Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?

What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?

What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?

What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?

What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency

What is a Stipulated Judgment?

What is the Deadline for a Defendant's Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?

Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?

Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?

Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?

Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide

Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?

Should I Marry Someone With Debt?

Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?

What Is a Warrant in Debt?

How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?

Can an Eviction Be Reversed?

Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?

What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?

Does Student Debt Die With You?

Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?

How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?

How Long Does a Judgment Last?

Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?

Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?

Do I Need a Debt Negotiator?

What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?

Learn More With These Additional Resources:

Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.

How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide

How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney

How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know

How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)

Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector

Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit

New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt

Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors

The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah

West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained

Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector

How to Liquidate Debt

Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt

You're Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim

Help! I'm Being Sued by My Debt Collector

How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment

How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt

ClearPoint Debt Management Review

Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt

Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say

CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review

How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

How to Appear in Court by Phone

How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement

Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do

How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection

Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt

Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa

How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review

How to Stop a Garnishment

Debt Eraser Review

Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?

Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?

How Long Does a Judgement Last?

​​How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?

How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court