The job of a process server is often straightforward, performing each delivery effectively and efficiently so the courts can move forward with whatever case may be involved. While that is how most situations unfold, there are those rare cases when someone who is being served with documentation does their best to avoid being identified. That is when the expertise and experience of a process server come into play. Avoidance of service is a common occurrence in the legal process. For example, if you are sued for a debt that you do not owe, you may choose to avoid service and avoid being involved in the lawsuit. In addition, people may wish to remain anonymous and not be served with divorce papers or other legal documents such as subpoenas or notices of eviction. While the need to prevent the headache of a court hearing is understandable, it only becomes much harder to present both sides of the equation if one party is doing everything possible to avoid detection. Process servers will spend a great deal of time on the initial preparation of information before serving papers. This includes verifying addresses, contacts, and up-to-date records on a subject. Once all the details have been ironed out and a process server is confident they have the correct and most recent data, they will attempt delivery.
Confidence & Kindness are KeyA process server will remain calm and collected during delivery. This includes not answering questions or being intimated by someone trying to avoid service of process. It is far more effective to speak clearly and politely so that any evasions by a subject do not prevent delivery. This could be things like they cannot meet at a prearranged time or are not the person the process server is seeking. All of these evasions will be met with respectful but assertive verifications of information. That is why it is not uncommon to see a process server with a documented photo of the subject ready to present on their phone. The internet makes it extremely easy to verify the identity of someone. If they are trying to evade over the phone or in-person with false claims, a process server can verify information like their image, pointing out the residence address, or place of business, and the registered agent.
Process Servers Can be CreativeSometimes, a process server may find that a defendant avoids the service of process by using a different name. For example, the plaintiff might be trying to serve one defendant when in fact, it’s another person who shares the same name and address. Or maybe the defendant is trying to avoid receiving papers by giving out an address where no one lives or putting his/her phone number on “do not call” lists. Here is when a process server will get more creative about their duties. If the address being used is actually owned by someone else and they’ve provided false information on their credit report (e.g., they say they live at an apartment but really don’t), process servers may go ahead and try serving them at that location anyway. This way, they can ask neighbors where they think this person lives or look around town for any signs of life at this particular location before making service attempts there. Sometimes people will open their doors even though they aren’t expecting visitors because they’re bored or lonely living alone without any family members nearby or just aren’t getting enough sleep. You could even see a process server calling out a name in a crowd at a park and seeing who responds. Nothing about legal duties or paperwork has to be mentioned at all, just a name. People who avoid process servers should expect to receive notices frequently and at various locations. This could include:
- Visting the residential address and leaving notes
- Visiting previously documented addresses and leaving messages with those residents
- Going to a place of business and speaking with employees/employers to get in touch with the subject
- Leaving messages on a car
- Reaching out via social media
- Leaving voicemails on a phone