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Need advice regarding letter from CA


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Hello all,

Yesterday I received a letter from an Attorney's office stating that they were suing me on behalf of Palisades Collection L.L.C.

The name of the Attorney's office looks to be Wolpoff & Abramson L.L.P.

This letter came in a plain white envelope, not an envelope with the Attorney's name and address. It had a metered stamp and no return address.

Inside the envelope were about 10 pages of what looked to be official summons documents with all the legaleese mumbo jumbo and some boxes checked.

On the first page it said that I have 30 calendar days after receiving the summons to file a written response and have it served on the plaintiff.

Nowhere on any of the pages was an official stamp from the court and where there would normally be a stamp from the clerk, was the hand written name of the clerk.

It does show a case number, also handwritten when normally it would be stamped.

The only official looking stamp on this is the date of NOV 01 2005 which I'm guessing is the date they drew up this paperwork. I just received this 11/19, so 11/1/05 can't be the court date.

I've seen paperwork like this before and it had all of the official stamps and seals where they should be. This paperwork does not.

I've looked and looked and can't find any other date that would indicate a court date and time.

Attached to the thrid page is a blue piece of paper stating that I can call the 800 number listed to arrange payment prior to the court date if I owe the money, in order to avoid going to court.

If I owe the money? If they didn't think I owed the money then why would they be sending me this?

Corrct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't a collection agency or Attorney's office have to legally serve someone via a Process Server or registered mail in order to make a summons legal?

It looks to me like these numbskulls are pulling out all the stops in order to get me to pay them money I don't have.

If this is the case, are these people in violation of any FCRA laws?

Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.


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A letter telling you to pay to avoid "this" (meaning going to court)? I'd be all over them like flies on you-know-what if I found there was no case filed. Call the court to see.

Service of Process Rules are here:


If it's found to be bogus, report them immediately to their State Bar and both your and their State Attorneys General.

Last time I checked, forging court documents was illegal - although the last attorney that got caught only got a (surprise, surprise) slap on the wrist.

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Since I don't recall ever talking to these people, there's no way they could have asked me if I would accept service by mail. There's nothing in the paperwork I received that states I gave them permission to do so.

I did read the link that DocDon provided regarding Service Of Process Rules for California. And if my interpretation is correct, then they would have to have someone serve me at my work, or serve me at home which has not happened.

If I wasn't at work or home when they tried to serve the summons, then they have the option of leaving it with someone at least 18 years of age and disclosing the contents. To my knowledge, it was not left with anyone at my work or home.

Perhaps as you're saying, they might already have filed and sent this ahead of time. I suppose the only way I'll really know for sure is to call the court and find out if the case number is legit.

I appreciate your reply's and will keep you informed.

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Here's an update on my situation. I called the court and there was indeed a case filed against me. I asked the clerk how the clock could be ticking since the CA has no proof of service and she could not give me an answer. She thought it odd that I wasn't served via Process Server or certified mail.

But, be that as it may, she said I now have 30 days to respond to the summons or lose the case by default. My questions now are, what is the best way to proceed? How do I know that the amount they're asking for is legit? Should I ask for verification?

I don't even know who the original creditor is, though the summons contains an account #.

Or should I just contact them and try to work out a repayment plan and if so, do I call them or write to them to do so?

Any advice would be appreciated.


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Might as in "lawyer" but probably come up with a motion for continuance to obtain counsel since you were not properly served? since it's obvious they are going for the easy default.

Will the court provide you with a copy of summons so you can perform discovery? (it's no longer validation, it's discovery from here on out)

I know some have said since you were not served then let the default happen then get it vacated based upon improper service.

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Once again, thanks for the replies. As you can probably deduce, I'm traveling down a road I've never traveled before and I'm definatly lost at this point.

I've spent several hours looking at websites trying to decipher what constitutes a legal summons.

This is what I found from one site.

The person mailing the papers also includes a copy of the Proof of Service form. The Proof of Service form will be complete except for the signature. Service by mail is permitted for all papers if the party to be served lives outside California.

In these circumstances the mailing must be by Registered or Certified Mail and must have the Return Receipt Requested form attached and filled out.

The signed Return Receipt Requested form must be filed with the court along with the form which states how the papers were served (Proof of Service).

If the party to be served is not in California, the party is served by mail ten days after the papers are mailed. Note: In practice it is better to have the person personally served even outside California. If the party to be served by mail does not sign the Return Receipt Requested form, you do not have good service.

In the paperwork I received, there was no proof of service and as mentioned, was not mailed via certified or registered mail.

They have my home address and must know where I work but have never tried to have it hand delivered.

So based on that information and what you're saying, I was not properly served and therefore they cannot obtain a judgement? I don't beleive I received interrogatories from the court. All I have is the summons from the CA.

Would the summons from the court be different from the summons I received?

Do you think the CA is calling my bluff and I should just ignore this, or do I need to be more proactive?

Thanks again.

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If there is a case filed, they are not bluffing, they are hoping you will not show and they will get the easy judgement. If you are not properly served, it does not prevent them from getting a judgement, it just makes it possible that you can get the judgement vacated.

You will have to face this eventually, why not now? It will be easier to do it now and not have to worry about vacating the judgement.

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If you were not properly served, then the "clock should'nt be ticking".

I can go 'file' a complaint (lawsuit), pay the filing fee, etc. But until it's served, it's not valid. If the clerk doesn't have any proof of service, file a MTD for lack of proper service.

You could also go after the CA for FDCPA violations as DocDon said earlier.

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Hi again,

I just called the clerk of the court and asked if they had proof of service for the summons I received and was told that they didn't have one on file.

She did tell me that under normal circumstances, that the plaintiff is supposed to make all reasonale attempts at service in person before sending it through the mail. And then it must be registered or certified mail.

Again, the CA has not attempted to have me served in person or give the summons to a co-worker or family member if they couldn't locate me, which would not be hard to do.

So according to the clerk of the court, I've not been legally served as yet and no court date would be set until I replied to the summons.

I again asked how the clock could be ticking on the 30 days to respond if the CA who mailed me the summons doesn't even know if I received it in the first place, and she said well it might be from the date it was mailed which I find hard to beleive.

I also asked her if she could send me a copy of the summons they might have on file and she said she couldn't.

Leadhead, can you tell me what an MTD is?

Any more adivce on this matter would be greatly appreciated. I appreciate all of your replies

Thanks again.

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I'm sure "MTD" is "Motion To Dismiss".

From my point of view, boards like this are much more helpful for collection issues that happen outside the courtroom...once a suite is filed, you need to understand that you are moving into a different arena than simple debt collection.

Some people enjoy taking on something like this by themselves and educating themselves about all the in's and out's of being in the courtroom - however, unless you have lot's of time on your hands and enjoy such things, I'd highly recomend that you get an attorney immediately.

While you should continue to educate yourself about the collection process and your rights as a consumer, a good attorney is well worth his/her fee; especially if the debt is significant and/or you have a lot to loose.

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