Recommended Process Serving Standards for the Collection Industry


Recommended Process Serving Standards for the Collection Industry

All process servers and process serving companies should always conduct themselves in an honest, respectful, professional and ethical manner and avoid even the appearance of improper behavior.


A.GPS verified/time/date-stamped record of every attempt evidencing the service location

B.Full description of the individual served or complete explanation for non-service in return of service documents as required by the jurisdiction

Full description should include first and last name and relationship and if name and/or relationship not given description that name and/or relationship was refused

C.Process Server must be the one signing the return, no one can sign another’s return

If a notary is required, compliance with state law as to notary attestation is mandatory

Signatures on original affidavits need to be originals and cannot be images, no one can have imaged signatures of the process server so that there is no potential for misuse, with the exception of states where an e-signature process is permitted and is utilized within the law

D.Server compensation programs based on successful versus non-successful serves should not be utilized

Success-based compensation systems provide opportunity for falsified affidavits of service

Individual process servers should be compensated by their process serving company at the same rate for successful serves and unsuccessful serves; and where not compensated at the same rate process serving companies should provide disclosure to their clients.

E.Written compliance program

All process service companies should have a written compliance program

The compliance program should include penalties for non-compliance up to and including termination

The compliance program should designate a Chief Compliance Officer who is responsible for implementing and managing the program

The written compliance program should document steps taken to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws

The written compliance program should be updated on regular basis by the Chief Compliance Officer

The written compliance program should be made available on-demand by the process service company’s clients

F.Procedure should be in place to keep abreast on court decisions and new laws impacting process serving in the states where they operate

G.Company must maintain necessary corporate licensing, registrations, bonding and insurance for every state where company operates

H.Monitoring of individual process servers for active state/county licenses and bonding

As well as active driver’s licenses and automobile liability insurance

National criminal background checks going back at least seven years for new process servers with felony or any other crimes of moral turpitude convictions being a hiring disqualifier

National criminal background rechecking annually

I.The process serving company should maintain full transparency for each client providing status information and all information regarding active and inactive accounts

Copies of all service documents, images, server handwritten worksheets and GPS information should be available

J.Any sub-server company hired by the process serving companies should be in compliance with these standards

Any time a sub-server is used for service, advance notice should be given to the client

II.Internal and External Audits

A.Internal Audits

Regular internal auditing of process server activity and documents for completeness and accuracy

Feasibility scoring of the time between all service attempts to identify unrealistic over-performance of their route

Cross-checking that all server attempts are within legal days and hours
Monitoring the results of each server’s attempts for unrealistic performance
B.External Audits

At any given time, without warning, clients may audit process serving companies either in person or remotely

Responses from process serving companies should be immediate as long as requests are reasonable

III.Process Server Education

A.Education program, including relevant creditor/collector regulations, particularly for new servers (where no licensing or training is provided by the licensing authorities)

B.Continuing education every two years (unless mandated by state)

IV.Engagement of Process Serving Companies

A. Mutually acceptable written contract should be in place between process serving companies and each of their clients

The contract with each client should define the nature of the service relationship, the importance of confidentiality, service standards and time-frames, service fees, parameters for record retention, the client’s right to audit, licensing requirements, indemnification of the client, data transmission security, sub-server requirements, payment and billing requirements, insurance requirements, and warranties.

V.Conflicts of Interest

A.Law firms or their partners should not have any ownership position in the process serving companies that the law firm uses without full and total disclosure to all of the law firm’s litigation clients

And family relatives (or spouses) of law firm partners (or spouses) should not have an ownership position in the process serving companies that the law firm uses without full and total disclosure to all of the law firm’s litigation clients.


Appeals court tosses suit based on insufficient service of process by Andrew Bergh

Let me give you one good reason why you should carefully review affidavits of service from your process server: Street-Dybdahl v. Nguyet Huynh, 157 Wn. App. 408 (2010). This prudent practice especially holds true if you’re filing suit just before the statute of limitations runs on your client’s claim.

David Streeter-Dybdahl was hurt in a car accident in late September 2005. On Sept. 18, 2008, only two days before the statute of limitations ran, he filed a negligence suit against the other driver, Nguyet Huynh, in King County Superior Court.

On Nov. 20, 2008, defense counsel called Streeter-Dybdahl’s attorney and asked for proof and confirmation of service. There was no immediate response. Instead, only three days later, a process server tried to serve the complaint on Huynh at the Seattle address listed in the police report.

In his declaration of service, the process server said that he personally delivered the pleadings to Nguyet Huynh at defendant’s “residence and usual place of abode.” The recipient was described as a male Asian in his 30’s with brown hair, 4’10” tall, and weighing 140 pounds. There was one major problem with this description, however, as the real Nguyet Huynh is a female Asian.

On Dec. 23, 2008, Huynh answered the complaint and asserted insufficient service as an affirmative defense. By that time the 90-day tolling provision of RCW 4.16.170 had expired, so Streeter-Dybdahl didn’t have the option of again trying to serve the defendant.

Huynh later moved to dismiss, arguing that she had never been personally served and that she didn’t live at the Seattle address where the complaint was dropped off. In her supporting declaration, she said she is 5’1” tall and weighs 110 pounds, and that her husband is 49 years old and 5’3” tall (which ruled out any inference that her husband had received the papers). Huynh also said that she moved from the Seattle address to Lynnwood in 2002, and that she moved to her current Lynnwood home in April 2008. For good measure, she also submitted property records confirming that she bought the property at that time.

In his opposition, Streeter-Dybdahl submitted records from the Department of Licensing reflecting that Huynh had listed the Seattle residence as her current address since January 2006. He also offered King County records showing that Huynh had a prior ownership interest in the Seattle property, which she quitclaimed in 2006. (I’m not sure how that helped his cause, unless Streeter-Dybdahl was trying to impeach Huynh’s testimony that she had lived in Lynnwood since 2002.) And predictably, Streeter-Dybdahl further noted that the Seattle address was referenced in the police report as the defendant’s address.

The trial court also considered testimony from Huynh’s brother, who was living at the Seattle address when service was attempted. Although he apparently fit the description of the male described in the affidavit of service, the brother denied at his deposition that he ever saw or received the summons and complaint. He also testified that Huynh moved out of the Seattle residence around 2003 or 2004, and that she only came by once or twice a month to collect mail.

Although the trial court denied Hyunh’s motion to dismiss, the Court of Appeals (Division One) granted her motion for discretionary review (rarely a good sign for the party who initially prevails).

At the outset, Division One discussed the applicable procedural rules when an insufficient service defense is made. They aren’t too complicated:
1. The plaintiff has the initial burden of proof to establish a prima facie case of sufficient service.
2. An affidavit of service is presumptively correct.
3. The defendant must show service was improper by clear and convincing evidence.

Under the relevant statute, a defendant who is not served personally can also be served “by leaving a copy of the summons at the house of his or her usual abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then resident therein.” RCW 4.28.080(15). As the Court of Appeals noted:
The term “‘[u]sual place of abode must be taken to mean such center of one’s domestic activity that service left with a family member is reasonably calculated to come to one’s attention within the statutory period for [the] defendant to appear.’”
157 Wn. App. at 413 (quoting from Sheldon v. Fettig, 129 Wn.2d 601 (1996)) (my emphasis).

Since Streeter-Dybdahl conceded that Huynh hadn’t been personally served, the issue was whether she had been validly served by substitute service. Resolving this question in Huynh’s favor, the Court of Appeals concluded that the record failed to establish that the Seattle address was the “center of her domestic activity.” For one thing, said the court, using a particular address for a “limited purpose” – e.g., listing it with DOL as a current address – isn’t a “critical factor” in determining this issue. Moreover, the court highlighted the brother’s testimony about how Huynh had moved out of the house in 2003 or 2004 and only came by once or twice a month to collect mail.

In Sheldon v. Fettig, supra, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that under certain circumstances, a defendant can have more than one house of abode if each is a center of domestic activity. In that case, substitute service was deemed proper because the defendant was a flight attendant who split time between her apartment in Chicago and her parents’ home in Seattle. But according to Division One, Sheldon was distinguishable:

[T]here was no evidence to suggest that Huynh actually resided at the Seattle house, much less split time between that house and her Lynnwood home. While Streeter-Dybdahl places much weight on the fact that mail was kept in a special box for Huynh at the Seattle house, there is no evidence that she was immediately notified or aware when mail came for her at that address; it was simply kept there for her in the event she came by. Such facts do not suggest that the Seattle house was the center of her domestic activity and that service left with a family member there is reasonably calculated to come to her attention within the statutory period for her to appear.
157 Wn. App. at 415.

As a fallback argument, Streeter-Dybdahl also contended that Huynh had waived her claim of insufficient service. As Division One observed, a defendant can waive this defense by engaging in dilatory conduct or conduct inconsistent with asserting the defense. For example, in Lybbert v. Grant County, 141 Wn.2d 29 (2000), waiver was found where the defendant “did not plead insufficient service, engaged in several months of discovery, discussed mediation, failed to respond to interrogatories inquiring about a possible insufficient service defense, and then asserted the defense after the statute of limitations ran.” The Court of Appeals further noted that to establish waiver, the plaintiff must show either “willful evasion of process,” or that by “lying in wait,” the defendant had deprived the plaintiff of the chance to fix the service defect. But none of those facts were present here. The record instead established, said Division One, that the process server mistakenly believed that he had served Huynh – and that Streeter-Dybdahl then failed to correct his error before the service deadline passed.

In sum, Street-Dybdahl v. Nguyet Huynh is another poignant reminder that defective service of process can be fatal to a given plaintiff’s claim. The best way to avoid this situation altogether is by filing your client’s complaint long before the statute of limitations runs. That way, if the defense is raised, you’ll have plenty of time to either conduct discovery on the defense and/or serve the defendant again. But if this isn’t possible because the client contacts you just before the statute is about to run, it wouldn’t hurt to keep the following in mind:
In car accident cases, don’t rely solely on the police report for the defendant’s address. Even if that address is “current” per DOL records, that fact alone won’t excuse defective service.
Check public records to corroborate the defendant’s current whereabouts.
Use an on line service like Accurint for Legal Professionals to obtain a cheap investigative report.
Carefully review the affidavit of service from your process server. Although an affidavit of service is presumptively correct, Streeter-Dybdahl shows how easily this presumption can be overcome.

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Posted by on January 18, 2016 in Investigations


Naples private investigators hired to save family held hostage in Egypt

The Video

NAPLES, Fla.- Two private investigators signed on for a mission of a lifetime. Both risked their lives during a daring rescue to pull an American and her children out of Egypt.

Because of the severity of the mission, names of the family involved will not be disclosed. During the mission, the investigators did not have the backing of the U.S. government and were on their own if something went wrong.

Naples Security Solutions answered a phone call from a family desperate to get their loved ones back. They explained to the investigators, Chris Knott and Mike Perl, one of their family members and her children were being held hostage by her husband in Egypt.

The two had met in the United States, both were doctors who fell in love and were married.

“She is of Christian faith and he is Muslim,” explained Knott.

The difference in religions would not play a huge role in their marriage until five years in. The woman said her husband’s mentality changed. He gravitated toward Islam, he cut off her family and made no friends.

He no longer wanted to live in the United States and demanded they move to Egypt. When the family wouldn’t go, he suggested a trip instead. She hesitated but went against her family’s wishes.

“They knew he had the capability to do this but she didn’t want to see it I guess,” explained Perl.

“He destroyed their passports and said they would never go back. He said he would kill the family before they were allowed to go back to the United States,” said Knott.


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Posted by on November 19, 2015 in Investigations


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Omaha private investigator pleads guilty to defrauding client of more than $850,000


An Omaha private investigator has agreed to plead guilty to scheming to defraud a client of more than $850,000.

In exchange for Patricia Walker-Halstead’s plea, federal prosecutors agreed to drop 10 other counts of wire fraud. She had been charged with 11 total counts of wire fraud.

Prosecutors say Walker-Halstead, 69, used payments from the client for personal expenses and gambling rather than on background checks and other security services.

A federal indictment alleges Walker-Halstead did not do investigative work, develop evidence or conduct background checks for the client.

Instead, authorities say, she lied to the client in emails and took $856,080 from her.

Walker-Halstead told her client she asked a Nebraska State Patrol investigator named “Scott” to assist with the investigation of her client’s security concerns, according to the indictment. Authorities said Scott never existed.

Walker-Halstead asked her client in an email to give Scott money because he was having financial troubles. She also indicated that he might be a potential love interest, authorities have said.

Walker-Halstead is scheduled to be sentenced in February. She could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. She has agreed to pay $250,000 in restitution before the sentencing date. The judge could order her to pay more restitution as part of her sentence.
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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Investigations


Guide to Privacy Online, Encryption, For Journalists


The GNU Privacy Guard
GnuPG is a complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard as defined by RFC4880 (also known as PGP). GnuPG allows to encrypt and sign your data and communication, features a versatile key management system as well as access modules for all kinds of public key directories. GnuPG, also known as GPG, is a command line tool with features for easy integration with other applications. A wealth of frontend applications and libraries are available. Version 2 of GnuPG also provides support for S/MIME and Secure Shell (ssh).
GnuPG is Free Software (meaning that it respects your freedom). It can be freely used, modified and distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License .
GnuPG comes in three flavours:
2.0.29 is the stable version suggested for most users,
2.1.9 is the brand-new modern version with support for ECC and many other new features,
and 1.4.19 is the classic portable version.
Project Gpg4win provides a Windows version of GnuPG stable. It is nicely integrated into an installer and features several frontends as well as English and German manuals.
Reconquer your privacy
Even if you have nothing to hide, using encryption helps protect the privacy of people you communicate with, and makes life difficult for bulk surveillance systems. If you do have something important to hide, you are in good company; GnuPG is one of the tools that Edward Snowden used to uncover his secrets about the NSA.
Please visit the Email Self-Defense site to learn how and why you should use GnuPG for your electronic communication. If you need printed leaflets check out FSFE’s GnuPG leaflet.

GNU Privacy Guard (GPG)

CyberGhost VPN

Fahmida Y. Rashid
Nov 26th, 2013
CyberGhost VPN  is a personal VPN service that is easy to use, hides your online activity from eavesdroppers, and allows you to spoof your IP address to view content that is restricted to a certain geographic location.  While there are plenty of other VPN services on the market that offer both a paid and free version of its software, such as AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield $4.99 at AnchorFreeand VPN Direct,  CyberGhost VPN (current version is CyberGhost 5) is the first one I’ve seen where the free version has everything I needed. No need to upgrade to a paid version.  That alone makes CyberGhost VPN an Editors’ Choice for free VPN services, alongside VPNBook.
The Article
Download Cyber Ghost

Private chat can be easy and accessible.

Cryptocat is a fun, accessible app for having encrypted chat with your friends, right in your browser and mobile phone. Everything is encrypted before it leaves your computer. Even the Cryptocat network itself can’t read your messages.

Cryptocat is open source, free software, developed by encryption professionals to make privacy accessible to everyone.

Crypto Cat

What is ChatSecure?

ChatSecure is a free and open source messaging app that features OTR encryption over XMPP. You can connect to your existing accounts on Facebook or Google, create new accounts on public XMPP servers (including via Tor), or even connect to your own server for extra security.

Unlike other apps that keep you stuck in their walled garden, ChatSecure is fully interoperable with other clients that support OTR and XMPP, such as Adium, Jitsi, and more.
Chat Secure

Tails is a live operating system, that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to:

use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship;
all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network;
leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly;
use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.


The guide to staying anonymous online

The Guide To Staying Anonymous

I don’t personally use any of them. I don’t say or do anything online that I particularly care anyone knowing that I’m the author. I’m pretty boring, actually. Allow Karma to ferrite the wheat from the chaff is my personal policy….unless I’m being paid to care (for clients) as an Investigator. That’s a whole different animal. But journalists may care.

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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in Investigations


Former Private Eye Pleads Guilty to One Count of Wire Fraud


A former private investigator believed to be involved in an alleged scheme to defraud a private investigations client pleaded guilty to one of eleven counts of wire fraud.

69-year-old Patricia Walker-Halstead appeared in Federal Court Monday where she plead guilty to one count of wire fraud. She could face up to 20 years in prison.

Investigators say 69-year-old Patricia Walker-Halstead convinced a client who feared she was being stalked to give her money in exchange for providing security services.

The initial indictment alleged that Walker-Halstead told the client she was working with was a Nebraska State Patrol captain and that the captain was a potential romantic suitor for the client. When Walker-Halstead suggested the captain needed money, the client gave the money and Walker-Halstead did not provide the services promised.

Walker-Halstead obtained $856,080.22 from the client through her alleged misrepresentations and used the money to make personal purchases and to pay for her personal gambling expenditures.

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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in Investigations


Woman charged with fraud and theft from cancer support charity


A Glendale woman was accused of stealing money from a non-profit cancer support charity after being arrested Nov. 4.
Melissa Talal, 42, was indicted by a grand jury, said the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, on two counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices and one count of theft.
A judge issued an arrest warrant for Talal’s arrest and she is being held on $25,000 bond. It was unclear if she had representation.
Talal started working in September 2006 as a finance coordinator for Cancer Support Community Arizona, a non-profit organization that provides support for individuals diagnosed with cancer and their families.
According to a spokesperson in the Attorney General’s Office, Talal had complete access to CSCAZ bookkeeping and finances.
The spokesperson said that from March 2007 to March 2012, Talal took credit cards and made more than $200,000 in unauthorized personal purchases for items such as concert tickets, clothing, electronic items and gifts for family and friends. She was also accused of paying herself more than $40,000 that she was not entitled to.

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Posted by on November 17, 2015 in Charity Fraud


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