How do I collect money owed to me?

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How do I collect money owed to me?

I am owed money by 3 different persons who I sublet my apartment to, per our sublease agreement. I have decided to sue in small claims court since all persuasion has failed. However, I do not know their current home/work addresess. I’ve tried google etc. Without it I cannot file. How do I find this info/locate their current whereabouts? Also, can I charge interest and add it to the debt owed me? If so, how do I calculate it? Finally, can I ask for expenses incurred by me in pursuing the case (e.g. lawyer fees, travel etc .- from the debtors in the judgement)? I am desperate.

Asked on October 29, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Although you don't know the current addresses of the three defendants, you can still file your lawsuit and have them served by publication.  Service by publication is running the notice of the lawsuit in the legal notices section of your newspaper.  Even if the defendants don't see the notice, it is still effective service of process.  Check with your court clerk to inquire how long the notice is required to run in the newspaper for valid service by publication as this varies from state to state.

You can charge interest and add it to the debt.  You could charge a standard rate of interest such as 10% per year.  You might want to check with a lawyer referral service or possibly Legal Aid to inquire what the current standard rate of interest for lawsuits filed in your area is.

You can recover expenses such as the court filing fee, service of process (service by publication), etc.

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Locating a party to serve is not an easy thing and it can be costly.  There are services that run things like social security numbers or driver's license number. The general requirement is that you serve them at their last known address. If the apartment was their last known address well, then, I would serve them there. If you do not feel comfortable with doing that then do you have information as to their checking account, etc.?   This is where is gets tricky.  You could possibly subpoena the information from the banks but certain states require that either attorneys issue the subpoena or that the court does so as part of a lawsuit.  Small claims has certain limitations as to these types of discovery procedures.  You may want to seek legal help here.  You are in a tight spot.  Good luck.


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