News & Politics

Serve This! Debt-Ridden New Yorkers May Actually Catch a Break


People who hunt down New Yorkers are finally being served papers themselves. Process servers — and by extension the debt collectors who hire them — face new restrictions and requirements after a City Council vote last week and an expected signing into law by Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

For background on how desperately such a law is needed, see “An Unlikely Rescuer from the Jaws of Debt,” my story from June 2009 about Brooklyn pol Noach Dear’s unlikely transformation into a heroic debt court judge, smacking down sleazy debt collectors and lazy or just plain corrupt process servers.

Each year, 300,000 New Yorkers lose court cases that they didn’t even know existed, the city says. And about 80 percent of consumer-debt cases, mostly involving credit card debt, result in default judgments. That means the people lose their cases because they don’t even show up to court.

Now process servers will have to actually be somewhat qualified to serve papers, and perhaps they will actually serve the papers they’re supposed to, instead of leaving people hanging in the lurch. Details on the law here.

It’s not as if people haven’t been clamoring for relief. In March 2009, we noted that debt collectors were New Yorkers’ No. 1 nuisance among all business-type nuisances.

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