It can be scary and nerve-wracking enough to have a process server turn up at your door or job when you have no idea why he or she is there. It can be even more frightening if you are not even really sure that the person is actually a process server.
It’s sad, but communities across the country have unfortunately seen a recent increase in fraudsters posing as process servers to gain access to others to either frighten them or steal their money. Many of these cheats are pretty good at what they do, and it can be difficult to differentiate between them and real process servers. Many folks will fear breaking the law and acquiesce to the fakes, getting themselves in more trouble.
As such, we have put together a checklist of several telltale signs of fakes, so the average person will know whether or not he or she is speaking with a real process server:
The Person’s Age
If a person appears to be under the age of 18 and cannot identify his or herself to be otherwise, he or she is highly unlikely to be a process server. Most, if not all, states require any person serving papers to have reached the age of majority. However, a scammer may use a teen or child to trick you into opening your door.
Personal Involvement in the Case
If you personally know the person that is at your door, and he or she is claiming to sue you and is serving you applicable papers, it is most likely a scam. Most states, including Louisiana, require that a person serving papers is not to be a party to the case at hand.
For example, someone that slipped on your stairs and was injured cannot just walk up to you with paperwork. He or she needs to file the case in court, and, even if he or she self-represents, a neutral party is still required to make service.
That said, there some situations where some particular states may allow self-service. That is why it is always best to check your local regulations before accepting any paperwork.
Requests for Personal Information
A real process server will ask some basic identifying questions of a defendant or witness to ensure that he or she is serving the correct person prior to relinquishing the paperwork. This may include your first and last name, or date of birth, but it would never include your Social Security number or drivers’ license number. And, there certainly is no reason for a process server to ever know anything about your bank accounts or credit cards.
Any of these questions are only asked by criminals that are trying to steal your money directly or trying to take out accounts in your name using the obtained information. A process server does not need your Social Security number for any reason, so he or she will never ask for it.
Asking for Money
Any real process server will not ask you for money, and this does not just mean in the form of credit card or bank account numbers, as discussed above. No process server will ever inquire about cash, wire transfers, checks, or money orders from you.
First of all, there is never a delivery or process fee for delivering service of process. Legitimate servers are paid by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit. Even if the plaintiff’s attorney pays him or her upfront, the client will be billed later.
As a matter of fact, process servers also do not ever collect any money owed in divorce matters, collection cases, or alimony and child support. If someone claims that this is what they are doing, report him or her to law enforcement.
Lack of Self-identification
Many process servers carry identification on them to let others know that they are legitimate and only carrying out their jobs. They do this in spite of state licensing laws many times. Therefore, if you request that a “process server” show personal identification or something indicating the agency that he or she works for, the person should be able to do so.
Unfamiliarity with the Area
How is this person pronouncing the names of your city, town, or county? Does the person seem as though he or she is not acclimated to the local landmarks and cross streets? This can be a bad sign, since process servers are local workers that know the area that they work in like the backs of their hands.
Calling in Advance
A process server would never give anyone a call ahead of time and make plans to come by his or her house at an agreed upon time. We can’t say it never happens, but it is very unlikely, since a defendant or witness can then easily avoid service.
Threats are Made Against You
Process servers are typically kind to the folks that they serve paperwork to, and work hard to come across as non-threatening. Anyone that bullies or intimidates a recipient with jail time or other penalties for refusing service is likely to be liar trying to scare you.
Give Us a Call
Are you in need of real process servers that you can depend on? At Metairie Process Servers, Scott Frank and his team can be counted to get any legal paperwork delivered in a timely and efficient manner so you can rest easily. Give us a call or stop in and let us know what we can do today to assist you.
Donna Lee Hellmann is a New Orleans-area copywriter. The foregoing article has simply been presented for informational purposes only. She, and those at Metairie Process Servers, are not attorneys. If you seek further information about this topic, contact an attorney in your local area.