The former roommate is living out of state and is avoiding me. I am not able to properly serve them with the small claims paperwork because of this and would like to hire a debt collector.
You will have to decide if it is worth your time and money to continue attempting to collect. You do not need a debt collector at this time so much as a special process server or sheriff. However, if your former roommate lives out of state, you will have a very difficult time getting him or her back into the state and even more difficult time collecting if and when you enter judgment. Before you spend much more time, money and energy on this lawsuit, you should consult in person with a collection attorney who will be able to give you better guidance and direction.
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How much money are we talking? You don't need a judgment in order to hire a debt collector but a debt collector will probably not be eager to take your case as they generally work with businesses who send them several collection accounts at a time. You may be better off filing a small claim suit and having it served through a special process server if the county sheriff where he lives is unable.
All in all, you have a lot of work ahead of you. As Ms. Goldstein said, think about whether you want to throw time and money after this as it will cost both before you see any return.
Please note that this answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or an offer to form an attorney-client relationship. It is always advisable to seek the help of an attorney licensed in your state before proceeding on any legal matter.
You don't need a judgment to hire a debt collector. In fact, by speaking with a debt collector, they may give you some ideas in how to collect or even serve the defendant even if you don't hire them.
This answer posted on Avvo is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been formed based on this answer. It is always advisable to seek the advice of an attorney in your area as soon as possible to determine your legal options and rights.
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