Debt Collection & The Illegal Practice of Sewer Service
UPDATED: May 11, 2018
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When a debt collection agency files a lawsuit against you for an outstanding debt, it must serve you with the papers so that you are aware of the action. However, one New York agency allegedly didn’t think that was necessary and provided debtors with “sewer service” instead. Now it faces a class action lawsuit for those debt collection practices.
What Is Sewer Service?
Sewer service is a practice in which process servers, the people who are supposed to serve you with a lawsuit, simply dump the papers into the sewer – and then claim that they served you personally. Unfortunately for debtors, if you don’t get the notice, you can’t respond to the allegations and a judgment will be against you.
That’s exactly what happened to California resident, David Youssefyeh. Youssefyeh owed a debt that New York-based debt collection firm Mel Harris and Associates (Harris) was trying to collect from him. Although Youssefyeh was never served with papers, he soon discovered that his bank had levied his accounts and that Harris claimed the company had served him personally. He brought a class action lawsuit against Harris for its illegal practices.
Abusive and Deceptive Debt Collection Practices
It’s no secret that debt collectors will do whatever it takes to get a debt paid. However, some of their practices are abusive and deceptive – and illegal. Legal experts whose practices focus in debt collection / Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) cases say consumers can find themselves having to explain their outstanding debt (if it’s even theirs in the first place) to family members, co-workers, bosses and even neighbors. Although illegal, many debt collectors and debt buyers (those who purchase debt for pennies on the dollar and then try to collect it sometimes years later) use tactics such as calling family members and neighbors and telling them about the debt in order to embarrass the debtor into paying. In other cases, they may call the debtor’s boss and tell him or her that something terrible has happened and that it’s urgent for the debtor to call them back. That’s a lie, of course, but the debtor may pay up in order to avoid these types of blackmail-like practices.
Don’t Put Up With Illegal Debt Collection Practices
Debtors do not have to put up with such practices. The FDCPA says that debt collectors cannot use “abusive and deceptive” practices in order to collect a debt.