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Exploring the Reality of Process Service Scams

  • January 15, 2018
  • by ServeNow Staff

How do I know if a process server is legitimate?

Legal cases are often confusing and stressful for all parties. This especially rings true when a defendant is trying to decide if a process server is genuine or attempting to pull a scam.

If you feel like you are victim to process service fraud, read our tips to verify their legitimacy. If you are looking to hire a professional process server and are afraid of deceit, search ServeNow to see our verified process servers that uphold a higher standard of service:

Local & Screened Process Servers

Fake process servers and debt collectors are common - these shakedowns even happen to real process servers themselves! Here are some questions to ask yourself if you doubt a process server is rightfully serving you with documents.

Does the process server ask you, (the recipient), for payment?

Lawyers, private individuals, or businesses that hired the process server are the parties that pay. The recipient never pays a process server. If a “process server” demands money from you, we recommend refusing any type of payment and calling law enforcement to report this activity.

Do you know the person trying to serve you papers?

Most, if not all, states require a process server to not be a party to the case. That means that the individual suing you or someone involved in the case cannot present you with legal documents and assert that they were lawfully served. Research your state’s process service rules and regulations for further clarification.

Is the process server younger than 18 years of age?

A fake process server may attempt to use a child to get you to answer the door as they appear less threatening. However, most states require that the process server is older than 18 years of age, therefore a child cannot legally serve you.

Does the process server threaten you?

Process servers are agents of the law, they are not above the law. They should not intimidate or threaten you. Keep in mind, professional process servers are not involved in the lawsuit, so they are not personally invested in collecting money from you. Process servers also cannot issue warrants for arrest, only a marshall or other authorized officer may execute a warrant.

Does the process server ask for sensitive personal identity information?

Process servers often ask for identifying information (your name) to confirm that they are serving the right individual. However, they should not ask for sensitive personal information like your social security number, credit, or debit card information. If an individual asks for sensitive personal information, they may attempt to steal money or worse, steal your identity itself. Do not provide any information and report them to law enforcement or a regulatory agency like The Federal Trade Commission.

Still not sure if a process server is legitimate?

If you still doubt a process server’s intentions, follow up with specific questions that only a professional process server would know:

  • “What types of documents are you serving to me?” Typical documents are summons, subpoenas, writs, and complaints.

  • “What courthouse is the lawsuit filed and what is the case number?” You can look through public records or contact a county clerk to see if the provided case number is real if you know where the lawsuit is filed.

Reading your state’s rules of civil procedure can offer further verification of appropriate practices and clues to whether a process server is serving you in accordance with the law.

Ask for licensing information:

If the process server passes all your questions but you still are unsure, you may ask for proof of registration or license number if you are in the following states:

Local Licensing

Electronic service of process: Real or Fake?

Was I properly served if court papers were emailed or sent to me electronically?

Electronic service of process is becoming more popular as there is a growing need to locate and serve evasive defendants. Not all papers have to be physically served in order to be upheld in a court of law, so e-service can be considered proper service. However, there are some restrictions to electronic service of process. In many instances, electronic process service must be approved by a judge after determining all other courses have been satisfactorily attempted.

Some examples of electronic service of process show the variety of ways that papers are electronically served, from faxes to emails, and even social media sites like Facebook.

If you are electronically served, research the case number and courthouse where the papers originated to see if it is real.

Debt Collection Scams

To seem more threatening, fake debt collectors pose as process servers to make you hand money directly to them. If you believe you are victim to a fake debt collector posing as a process server, it is important that you ask yourself the questions found above. Just as with process servers, debt collectors are subject to rules and regulations. To view what debt collectors can and cannot do, read the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Debt collection is a complicated industry, as different companies can buy and transfer debt. Therefore, many people who owe money may not recognize the companies calling to collect which can make identifying a hoax even more difficult. The best way to protect yourself is to know your rights and the limitations for debt collection to ensure that you don’t fall for these vicious tricks. The Federal Trade Commission also publishes known scam threats so that you can arm yourself with the knowledge of common malevolent schemes.

Read some of the most commonly sought answers of the FDCPA for further clarification on how you can protect yourself.

Protect Yourself and Others

A standard American armed with the resources and information found here will be able to determine whether they are victim to a process service fraud. If you discover a scam, be sure to pass along any information to law enforcement or regulatory agencies so that fellow citizens don’t fall prey to these unfair and illegal practices.

If you are looking for a legitimate process server to serve your legal documents, browse our directory to find the company that best suits your needs and location.

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