Should I Accept Certified Mail?

Collection agencies like AscensionPoint Recovery Services and Expert Global Solutions and their nefarious smaller cousins are still pursuing the families of the deceased. A reader posted the following query on the post, “Deceased Estate Collection Services,” on March 9, 2016:

I’m a little late to the party, but I also have received a letter from Ascension Point regarding a credit card that my mother had before her death. They do list a creditor and an amount – however, after speaking with the original creditor, they informed me that the debt was cleared due to her passing. She has very minimal estate and everything is split equally between my brother and I. They have recently begun sending certified letters to my home (of which I was not home to receive so they were sent back). Am I obligated to pay these idiots? What steps should I take?

The first step is to accept delivery of the certified letters. Some collectors will send certified letters as a bluff, but certified mail may contain a civil complaint. Refusing the certified mail will not make the lawsuit go away. The person suing you, called a plaintiff, may go to court and get permission to serve you by publication.  Some crooked plaintiffs will file false proofs of service claiming that you were personally served when you were not.  In either case, you will have been “served,” but you will not know it in time to avoid being “defaulted.” A person who does not answer a suit loses by default, which can be difficult and expensive to set aside.

Just because you are not legally liable for a debt does not stop a claimant from suing you. If you are sued and do not defend, the claimant may get a default judgment against you, which you will probably have to pay or it will hang over your head like a dung-filled piñata for the rest of your life.

It is always better to accept delivery of certified mail. Once you have the mail, consult an attorney about how you need to respond. This is one time when you cannot afford to say, “I Can’t Afford an Attorney.”

John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200

©2016 John B. Payne, Attorney

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