I have six kids. When my kids were little they would close their eyes or put a blanket over their head and believe that so long as their eyes were closed or that blanket was over their head, no one could see them. Some people have a similar line of thinking when it comes to receiving service of a debt collection lawsuit. They know the process server is standing outside the door. But maybe. Just maybe, if they pretend they aren’t home, this whole thing will go away and life will go on as normal.

The thing you must understand is, that just because the process server doesn’t catch you at home (or can’t get you to open the door), does not mean that they can’t serve you. And truthfully, by trying to evade service of the lawsuit you are likely doing yourself a whole lot more harm then good. Here’s why. After a process server makes a couple attempts at dropping of the lawsuit at your house, if they can’t get a hold of you they can go back to the court and ask the judge to permit them to serve you by some other method. And the thing is the other methods rarely actually give you notice of the lawsuit.

Typical alternative service methods are publication (in the smallest newspaper you have never heard of in your community), or by mail to your last known address – which never seems to be the place you actually live. The danger to you is that even though you likely will not see the notice that gets published in the newspaper or receive the complaint and summons in the mail, the court will deem that you have been appropriately served and the clock starts ticking on your requirement to file a response. And obviously, because you didn’t know about it, you don’t answer the lawsuit and a default judgment is entered against you. Once the default judgment is entered then the real fun starts and you get your paycheck garnished or your bank account emptied.

But this can be avoided. You just have to answer the door. The process server seems scary, but all they will really do is ask you who you are and drop of the papers. By accepting service you know how much time you have to file a response, who is suing you, and what their claims are. Many times in lawsuits by junk debt buyers you can win those lawsuits. But not if you don’t know about them.

Answer the door. Get the documents. Review what you have learned on this site. And if you choose, call an attorney to help you in dealing with this problem head-on.

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