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How to Know if a Process Server is Authentic

Why would someone pretend to be a process server? To scam you out of your hard-earned cash! Scammers have seeped into literally every aspect of our lives these days, and the process serving industry is no exception. We frequently get calls from people who trusted a cut-rate server with their case’s process, only to have them disappear with the money and the paperwork, never serving it as promised. Not that it would matter if they did, because uncertified process servers are not allowed in Hillsborough County at all. Any process an uncertified process server delivers is not valid and can be grounds for dismissal of an entire case.

Wondering how you can tell if a process server is legit? Use our guide below to vet candidates, and if any don’t check all the boxes, make it a hard pass.

 Check for Certification

The state of Florida requires that all process servers be certified and approved by the judicial circuit in which they plan to work.Hillsborough County is the only county in Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit. Anyone attempting to serve process in Hillsborough County that is not approved by the 13th Judicial District is acting fraudulently. A list of currently approved process servers in Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit can be found here.

 Test Their Knowledge

During interviews with potential process servers, test their knowledge of the laws and regulations that apply to the process service industry here in Florida. Just a few of the topics you can inquire about include:

  • Do not leave process in a mailbox
  • Do not leave process anywhere outside a business or residence
  • Do not leave process with anyone other than the named recipient (except in certain situations)
  • Do not attempt to serve process on Sundays

It’s best to casually bring these things up in conversation so you don’t unintentionally lead the prospective server into giving you the answers you want to hear. Scammers are smart! Instead, ask the server if they can just leave the papers in the defendant’s mailbox or with their roommate if they’re not home and see what the server says. A reputable server will immediately tell you these things are not permitted without prior court approval. A scammer will say yes to anything to get your cash.

 Focus on Ethics

Serving process requires honesty and integrity on the part of the process server. While there are many things that are not expressly forbidden by law for a process server, such as pretending to be someone else, that still doesn’t make them acceptable. Professional, ethical process servers always operate above the law’s highest standards instead of stooping to cheap tricks. If the server you’re interviewing suggests using dubious tactics to identify and serve process recipients, it’s best to move on to the next candidate.

 Ask About Proof of Service

Florida state law doesn’t require proof of service to be filed with the court for that service to be valid, but any reputable process server will still file said proof with the court. It’s just one more way to verify that the process recipient was promptly and properly served. It’s a hassle to have to find the server later on to get a copy of proof of service, and if for some reason they cannot find it, it could derail your entire case. Always ask any server you interview about their proof of service procedures.

Proof of service is one way Accurate Serve® offer you an advantage. You don’t have to wait for us to contact you to verify that the recipient has been served…you can track the status of your case’s process online, 24/7 with our convenient and easy status check tool. Just login right from our website home page and the most current information available for your case will be displayed…no phone call required.

 Check Their References

Don’t just ask for a list of references and then never think about it again…pick up the phone (or fire up your email software) and actually make contact with those references. It’s not unheard of for people, especially scammers, to just provide a list of fake names and numbers in hopes that you’ll never check. Scammers have also been known to list contact information for their friends or family members instead of real references, coaching them to lie to you so you’ll hand over your money. Do your due diligence and check out each reference that the potential server provides. If anything doesn’t check out or feels off, trust your gut and choose someone else.

Process Servers in Tampa Bay

Scams are everywhere, so don’t fall victim to ploys by illegitimate, uncertified servers. Only use highly reputable process servers for your court process, like those at Accurate Serve® in Tampa Bay. Our servers are certified, knowledgeable, and experienced, so you’ll never have to worry about invalid service affecting your case. To learn more, give us a call at (813) 544-6900 or send us a work request online.