The Attorney General of Washington plans to push forward with a plan to enact new laws that would change how debt collectors serve individuals who are being sued for unpaid debts.
Bills have been proposed in both houses of the state legislature that would require collectors file a lawsuit with the courts before serving an individual with a summons and a complaint. Washington courts have allowed what is known as “pocket service” where a lawsuit commences when a plaintiff serves a defendant with a summons of the complaint and not when the suit is filed with the court.
The proposed laws are aimed at protecting consumers from default judgments, which can be entered against defendants who do not show up for their court dates.
“Many unrepresented defendants reasonably conclude that the unnumbered summons and complaint are not valid, particularly when they call the court and are told that no case has been filed. They then intentionally fail to answer and unwittingly give up their only opportunity to contest the debt,” according to a copy of the proposed legislation, one of AG Bob Ferguson’s 11 initiatives for 2019.
The proposed legislation would require collectors to only serve an individual with a summons and complaint when “the summons and complaint have been filed with the court and bear the case number assigned by the court.”