Most people will live their life without ever being served a court summons, and because of this, it can be difficult to distinguish whether or not a summons they receive is valid. Due to this, questionable debt collection agencies recognize that many Americans have never received an actual summons before, and they use this to their benefit.
Some shady debt collection agencies will send out fake summons to scare debtors into making a payment. While it is common practice for debt collectors to take debtors to court over their payments, it is highly illegal for them to
If you are currently dealing with a debt collection agency and have received a summons in the mail, it’s wise to learn how to verify whether or not the summons is authentic.
What is a Summons?
A summons is a legal document notifying you of your required appearance in court. A summons will also include any information regarding the reason they are required to be in court if they need to defend themselves as well as the time and place they must appear.
A court summons is typically served by a process server, whose job is to accurately and legally provide you with the summons. Once you have been served with a summons, the first thing you should do is look for details related to the time, location, and date of your hearing.
If the summons you have received is valid, it is vital for you to attend the hearing and to be on time. If you do not show up for your hearing, you risk losing your case by default as well as a warrant for contempt of court may be issued.
How to Tell if a Summons is Fake?
There are several ways to determine if a summons is fake. The following are five of the most common indicators that a summons is fake and that you should investigate its legitimacy:
- Is there inconsistent or suspicious wording?
- Are there spelling errors?
- Does the summons include typical court details such as the address and phone number?
- Is there a docket number and a date and time to appear in court?
- Does the summons include a signature from the county clerk and a stamp with a seal?
While there are many ways to determine if a summons is real or not, the easiest way is to check and see if the docket number listed on the summons is real. A docket number is the official identifying number given to a case by the court, and your county clerk’s office should be able to look up the number when you call them.
If the docket number is valid, the county clerk’s office will let you know as well as they can also verify any information regarding the time and place of the hearing. If the county clerk’s office cannot find or match your docket number, this is a major red flag.
There is a possibility that the case is new enough that it has not been entered into the system yet, and it means you may have to call back at a later date or visit the county clerk’s office in person with your summons. If the county clerk confirms that the summons you received from a debt collector is fake, it is wise for you to hire an attorney to protect you from any further mistreatment.
What Should I Do If The Summons I Received Is Fake?
It is illegal for debt collectors to harass their debtors by sending them falsely represented court-issued documents. Debt collectors who send fake summons to their debtors are legally and financially liable for damages.
According to the FDCPA, you are entitled to monetary damages, court costs, and the debt collector is also on the hook for your attorney fees. If you have received a fake summons in the mail from a debt collector, you should immediately contact the bankruptcy team at Jackson White Law.
The bankruptcy team can assist you in filing a lawsuit against the debt collector and help you each step of the way.
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