Can a debt collector serve me with a lawsuit by mail?

September 16, 2009 by Todd Murray · Leave a Comment 

I’ve been asked several times recently whether a debt collector can serve someone with a lawsuit by mail. In Minnesota, the answer is yes, but only if you sign a form acknowledging receipt of the lawsuit. Merely mailing you a lawsuit is not valid service. If you don’t sign and return the acknowledgment, there is no service and you are under no obligation to respond to the lawsuit.

Apparently, some debt collectors are mailing lawsuits to consumers as a collection tactic. I imagine the belief is that the consumer will believe they have been served with the lawsuit and, out of fear, immediately call up the debt collector to make payment. If that is, in fact, the intent, I believe the approach is misleading. And depending on how the debt collector’s cover letter is worded, this tactic may be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

If you receive a debt collection lawsuit in the mail, only sign and return the acknowledgment if you intend to answer the lawsuit within 20 days of the date you sign the acknowledgment. If you sign and return the acknowledgment, but don’t answer the lawsuit, a default judgment will probably be entered against you.

If you live in Minnesota and want help answering a debt collection lawsuit, feel free to contact me by using the contact form in the upper right corner of this page. I offer a number of flexible representation options, so even if you can only afford to pay a few hundred dollars, I might be able to help you.

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About Todd Murray
I'm a consumer rights lawyer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I sue debt collectors that harass and abuse people, defend debt collection lawsuits, and sue repossession companies that wrongfully repossess cars and trucks.

Please Share Your Thoughts

I welcome your comments, but please don't post questions about your personal legal problem in this public forum. Rather than posting your question here, I recommend discussing your situation privately with a lawyer of your choice. If you live in Minnesota, feel free to use the contact form in the upper right corner of this page to request an initial consulation with me. To protect your privacy, I will delete all comments that involve a personal legal problem.