Creditors often make several attempts to recoup the money owed them before resorting to a lawsuit. However, if delinquent payers refuse to answer these payment requests, the creditor has reason to take the matter to court through a debt collection lawsuit.
Starting a Debt Collection Lawsuit
The case formally begins when the creditor, sometimes through a debt collection agency, files a complaint with the court. The complaint is a legal document that details the identities of the parties involved, the reasons the creditor filed a case, and the resolution that the creditor wants. This is usually the amount owed by the debtor; in some cases, the creditor also asks to cover the attorney’s fees and court costs.
Once the complaint is filed, the debtor must be notified of the lawsuit and asked for a response, which entails process service.
Process Serving in a Debt Collection Lawsuit
Before a court can render a judgment, it must acquire personal jurisdiction over the debtor, which is obtained when the debtor is properly served. In a debt collection lawsuit, there are three ways to be served.
- Personal Service – The process server hands the papers personally to the recipient.
- Suitable Age and Discretion Service – The process server hands the papers to another individual of suitable age and discretion. The process server also mails the process to the recipient within 20 days of the service on the substituted person.
- Nail and Mail – If several genuine attempts at personal and substituted service have failed, the process server employs a Nail and Mail service. This service affixes the papers to the door of the debtor’s place of residence or business then sends the process by first-class mail to the recipient within 20 days.
If the recipient doesn’t respond within the indicated timeframe, the court could render a default judgment against the debtor. A default judgment ruling could freeze the debtor’s bank accounts, preventing them from financial transactions until they pay back what they owe. The court could also allow the creditor to claim payments directly from the debtor’s paychecks or even put a lien on their homes.
Consequences of Improper Service
If the process service is executed incorrectly, the recipient may not receive the papers. Unnotified, they won’t be able to respond within the deadline, and the court might render a default judgment.
If a default judgment has been rendered because of improper service, then there is cause to reverse it. An order to show cause might be filed and, if successful, bring the case to square one. The debtor is now given a chance to answer the complaint and build a defense. This is an avoidable issue that will drag the case and cost both parties time and resources.
Choose Seasoned Process Servers
If you are a creditor or a debt collection agency seeking to serve papers to a debtor, entrust the process serving to Serve Index LLC. Our seasoned process servers see to it that the papers are served properly to the right individuals. We have the expertise to locate delinquent payers who have been evading you. We follow state legislation to avoid process service loopholes that could weaken your case.
Get in touch with our team for a free quote.