What to do if I’vve been receiving calls from a PI who wants to serve me with a judgment issued against me but they want me to provide them with personal identifying information?

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What to do if I’vve been receiving calls from a PI who wants to serve me with a judgment issued against me but they want me to provide them with personal identifying information?

However, they won’t provide me with who is filing these charges against me.They Ste also using my maiden name that changed when I married almost 5 years ago. Am I legally obligated to accept the documents if they’re not addressed to my legal name now?

Asked on November 23, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Tennessee

Answers:

Gregory Abbott / Consumer Law Northwest

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Something is not adding up here - if they already have a Judgment, then you should have been served a copy of the Summons and Complaint before the Judgment was ever entered, and they presumably already have whatever personal information about you that they need.  Or perhaps the PI is trying to find you TO serve you with the Summons and Complaint so they can sue you and, perhaps, obtain a Judgment against you in court.  Either way, you have no obligation to provide ANY information to the PI nor do you have any obligation to even speak with the PI - you are free to simply hang up on them if you wish.  The name issue is likely to be minor - if there is no question that you are the person that they are seeking, even if they file using your maiden name, they can simply ask the court to do a clerical correction to your current name.  That said, IF there is not yet a true Judgment against you and they are only seeking to serve you with the Summons and Complaint, then you may want to explore the situation with a local attorney.  If this alleged debt dates back almost 5 years, it may or may not be too late for them to sue you on it, depending upon what it is allegedly owed for and your own state's statute of limitations.  Technically speaking, a statute of limitations defense is called an affirmative defense which means, amongst other things, that they can legally sue you for the debt even after the statute voids the debt BUT you can go to court and get the case against you own out, even if you orgiinally owed it, based on their having waited too long to sue you.  It does, however, require your action to get it dismissed if that applies.  Lastly, as to "legally accepting the documents" - you are not required to accept any document per se.  However, all they have to legally do is serve them upon you; they do not have to have you accept them.  Thus if you refuse to take them, a process server can just drop them at your feet if they wish and you have been legally served.  It generally is not worth playing those sorts of games - in the end, they are likely to get you lawfully served and your being uncooperative, if brought to the Judge's attention, will likely just anger the Judge and increase the chances that he/she will rule against you on any issue that is a close call.  You should also keep an eye on what the PI says to you and/or any other party's collection efforts.  There are strict regulations as to what a debt collector can say to you or others and when they can say it.  Keep a written log of when they call/talk to you (time and date), what was said, and the name of the person doing the collecting effort.  Pay particular attention to anything that reasonably sounds like a threat or that is abusive, offensive, etc.  It might provide you with a claim back at them and/or provide you some leverage in attempting a settlement.  A good local consumer lawyer or collections lawyer should be able to advise you as to the specifics of your case, frequently at a free or discounted initial consultation rate.  Good luck.


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