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Washington House Passes Bill Aimed at Ending Pocket Service

The state of Washington’s House of Representatives has approved a bill that would require collectors file a lawsuit with the courts before serving an individual with a summons and a complaint. The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration and is one step closer to becoming law.

The House of Representatives approved the measure — House Bill 1066 — by a vote of 59-37.

Bob Ferguson, the Attorney General of Washington, declared his intention to end the practice known as “pocket service” as one of his primary initiatives for 2019.

Under the legislation that passed in the House, collection agencies would be allowed to serve individuals with a summons only after the summons and the complaint have been filed in Washington Superior Court and a case number has been assigned. Currently, a summons can be served on an individual before the summons or complaint has been filed in Superior Court. This, according to supporters of the bill, can create confusion among consumers because they can assume the summons is not valid because it does not have a case number and fail to answer, which could lead to a default judgment being entered against them.

Critics of the bill say that consumers opt not to respond to the summons largely because they are not disputing the debt, according to a published report.

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