New York City Debt Collection Defense Attorney

Methods of Service of Legal Papers on a Person: New York

Understanding the intricacies of service methods in New York is crucial for those sued for debt to determine if they were properly served and to ensure timely responses, avoiding severe legal repercussions. This knowledge empowers defendants, aiding in informed defense strategies and preventing future legal oversights.

5 Tips for Proper Service in New York Lawsuits

  1. Personal Service - Ideal Choice: Deliver Summons and Complaints directly to the defendant for effective and straightforward service.

  2. Substituted Service - Practical Alternative: When personal service isn't feasible, utilize substituted service by delivering papers to a suitable individual at the defendant's residence or workplace.

  3. Mailing the Summons - Formal Yet Effective: Mail them to the defendant's last known address, ensuring they're labeled "personal and confidential" and sent via first-class mail.

  4. Serving an Agent - Designated Contact: If available, serve the defendant's designated agent, verifying their authority and compliance with New York law.

  5. Nail and Mail Service - Unique Option: When other methods aren't possible, use nail and mail service (CPLR 308(4)) by affixing the Summons to the defendant's door and mailing a copy to their last known address.​

"Service" Under NY Law Stated Another Way

In order to properly commence a lawsuit, the plaintiff must serve a Summons and Complaint or a Summons with Notice upon the defendant. Proper service under CPLR 308 can be effectuated in a few different ways, including:

  • Personally, by delivering the papers to the Defendant;
  • Substituted service, by delivering papers to a person of suitable age and discretion at the actual place of business, dwelling place, or usual place of abode of the person to be served


by either mailing the summons to the person to be served at his or her last known residence or by mailing the summons by first class mail to the person to be served at his or her actual place of business in an envelope labeled personal and confidential with no indication that the enclosed documents are pertaining to a lawsuit; or

  • Serving an Agent designated to accept service by the person to be served.

How to Respond to a Summons and Complaint in New York City

However, what happens if the Plaintiff is unable to complete service using one of the above methods? An alternative method of service is allowed under CPLR 308(4) [1], commonly referred to as nail and mail service.

Pursuant to CPLR 308(4), proper service may be effectuated when both the summons is affixed to the door of the defendant's actual place of business or residence, AND the summons is mailed to the defendant's last known residence or actual place of business, hence the "nail and mail" moniker. 

Methods of service in New York