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As the People's Lawyer, the Office of the New York State Attorney General protects the legal rights of individuals, organizations, and natural resources of New York. However, please note the Attorney General cannot do any of the following:
- represent you as a private individual in court
- provide you with legal advice, research, or analysis
- refer you to an attorney
If you seek legal advice or someone to handle your case, please contact a private attorney. For a referral, contact the attorney-referral service at your county’s bar association.
If you cannot afford a private attorney, you may be able to find help through your local Legal Aid Society or Bar Association.
Organizations that may provide help
You may be able to find assistance or support at the following organizations. We list these organizations only for your reference. We cannot endorse the organizations or their website content.
Provides information on how to find free legal assistance in New York, learn your legal rights, and get information about courts
- New York Courts
Offers information about New York court procedures, forms, and laws, and guidance on finding an attorney in New York
- New York State Bar Association
Provides lawyer-referral center with guidance on how to find an attorney in your area and how to get legal help if you cannot afford a private attorney
- The National Crime Victim Bar Association
Offers technical support to attorneys representing crime victims in civil actions, refers crime victims to local lawyers, and works to increase general awareness of availability of civil remedies for crime victims
Process servers: know your rights
If a creditor decides to bring a lawsuit against you to try to collect a debt, it will typically hire a law firm. The law firm will have a legal process server deliver (serve) legal papers to notify you that you are being sued.
New York law is clear about how these legal documents must be served if you are being sued. A process server can:
- deliver a summons directly to you
- deliver a summons to an appropriate substitute person at your home or place of business and then mail the summons to you
If the above options fail after several attempts, the process server can post the summons on the door of your home or workplace and also mail it to you.
If you are served with legal papers, you must respond, even if you do not believe that you owe anything. If you fail to respond, the court will enter a default judgment against you. The creditor may be able to freeze your bank account or take money out of your wages.
Report any suspicious activity to our office. We have found that some process-service companies claim to have served documents to individuals, but never did. This is fraud that concerns the Attorney General.
To remove (vacate) a default judgment, you must make an application to the court that entered the judgment. Consult an attorney for help with this application.