Never Refuse to Accept Certified Mail

Many people are intimidated when a postal employee asks them to accept and sign for certified or registered mail, or other form of acknowledged delivery. They mistakenly believe that they will avoid negative legal consequences by refusing the mail. In fact, the exact opposite is the case. Here are some examples,

1. You may be a defendant in lawsuit. If the plaintiff (the person suing) has been unable to have you personally served with the Summons and Complaint by a process server, many courts allow service by certified mail. If the envelope is returned with the postal stamped “Refused,” the court may enter a default judgment against you. In other words, you will have lost the case. If you are involved in a business dispute and have been served with a Summons and Complaint, it may be in your best interest to discuss your rights with a business dispute lawyer businesses can rely on.

2. Some taxing and government authorities utilize certified mail in order to assess taxes against you or take some other type of administrative action. Again, an envelope returned as refused may result in your having waived your right to contest the taxes or other government action.

3. If some court has already assessed a money judgment against you, some laws require you to receive official notice before your paycheck or bank accounts can be garnished to satisfy a judgment. The written notice sent by certified mail will sometimes advise you of a time limit in which you must object to such action. Refusing the certified mail does not stop the time limit from expiring.

4. If you are a tenant in an apartment, and your landlord wishes to evict you, a notice advising you of the eviction is generally required before the landlord can go to court to have a judge order you evicted. The notice sent by certified mail may advise you of your right to “cure” the alleged violation of the lease. For example, if the notice states that you are $300 behind in your rent, there may be a narrow window of time in which you can pay that amount and avoid the eviction. Failing to accept the mail will result in your loss of the right to cure.

5. A distant relative may have died and the attorney probating that person’s estate may be trying to contact you to advise you of an inheritance. Failure to accept the certified mail may provide grounds for the other heirs to assume you are deceased and divide your share of the inheritance.

Bottom Line – Certified mail means that somebody or some business or government agency has something important for you to receive. If it’s bad news, refusing the certified mail will not make it go away. In fact, if it’s bad news, rejecting the certified mail may result in your loss of an opportunity to remedy the bad news. And, if it’s good news, you certainly don’t want to ignore good news!

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