It is important to have an updated address for the person/business you are looking to sue, as that’s where you will be sending your demand letter and serving your court papers.
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If you don’t know the defendant’s (the person you are suing) address, try using one of the below methods, depending on what you know about the defendant.
If the defendant has moved: Address a letter to them at their last known address. Below your return address, write “Address Correction Requested – Do Not Forward.” If there is a new address on file with the post office, the letter will be returned to you with the new address. If you have specific questions regarding the change of addresses or forwarding addresses, call the U.S. Post Office Customer Service hotline: 1-800-275-8777.
If the person you are seeking owns property: A search of the tax rolls could help you find the defendant’s home or business address. Search for the defendant’s name with the recorder’s or the assessor’s office of the county or municipality where you believe the defendant resides. Some recorder’s and addressor’s offices have online directories you can search without going to their office in person. You can find the address and telephone number of the recorder’s or assessor’s office for the country or municipality in the government pages of your phone book or by searching online.
If you have a post office box listing for the defendant: You can request the name, street address, and phone number of the holder of a post office box from the post office online at www.usps.com. (Click on “Locate a Post Office” in the upper right-hand corner. Under the drop-down menu for “What are you trying to locate?”, select the option “PO Boxes Available” and search by either ZIP Code or address. The website will produce a list of the closest post offices along with post office box information for each office. Information includes availability by box size and six-month box fees, as well as standard address and phone and fax numbers for each listed office. Click on “More Info” under each post office for additional details, including post office box lobby hours. If you cannot find the post office box information online you will need to go to your local post office and fill out a form to request the information.
If you have the defendant’s telephone number: A reverse telephone directory may provide the address. Reverse directories can be found at your local library and online through a variety of platforms.
If you have no other information, try to use the internet to find information on the defendant by typing their name into a search engine. You should be wary about obtaining information online, however, because more than one person with the same name may come up in a general search. There are also numerous specific online people finder platforms. The accuracy and quality of the information they provide vary wildly. Always try to confirm any information you find using one of the other methods listed here.
Finally, for a fee, private investigators can help you find information on the defendant. Many investigators are listed online or in the Yellow Pages.
If the other party is a Corporation or LLC: All corporations and LLCs operating in a state should be registered with their state’s Secretary of State. All states have agencies that regulate business operations, but they are called different names in different states. If your state does not have a Secretary of State, try searching for a “Division of Corporations” or “State Corporation Commission”. Many states have their business registration database online and available to the public, and you can identify the business address by providing the business name. (Ex: California SOS Business Search).
If the other party is a Limited Partnership: Limited Partnerships are also often registered at the state level, however, they may be registered in a different department than Corporations/LLCs. You can do a search online to see where Limited Partnerships are registered for your state and reach out to that state agency to request the business’s address information.
If the other party is a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership: SP and Partnerships are typically registered at the county and/or city level. If you know the city or county where the business is located, you can check with the clerk’s office. Depending on the city or county, the clerk’s office may have the business records available online for you to search. If not, you will need to call them and ask that they assist you in finding the information about the business.
If the other party is an online business: If you received a letter/package from the other party, you can try to locate the return address. If a return address is not provided, then it is possible the postage was printed from a postage meter. In that case, you can contact the USPS to get the owner’s information about the person or company that owns the postage meter.
If the business has a post office box: You can request from the USPS the name, address, and telephone number of the holder of a post office box that is used for business purposes. Bring proof that the box is used for business purposes.
If you have the other party’s telephone number: A reverse telephone directory may provide the address. Reverse directories can be found online through a variety of platforms or at your local library.
Still no address?
If you are still unable to locate the address of the person or business that owes you money, you may choose to send a demand letter electronically. You will not be able to leave the address field blank, but you can include any address you’d like, including your own. At the end of the process, you will receive a PDF demand letter that you can send to the other party using any method of your choosing. However, sending demand letters or any official documents electronically is not always reliable as the other party can argue that they never received it.
If you want to file a lawsuit against the other party, you will need to provide an address and be able to locate the person or business you are suing to “serve” them the court paperwork.
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NEED HELP WITH YOUR JUSTICE JOURNEY?
The quest for justice is never easy, particularly when it comes to getting your money back. However, thanks to advances in technology, it has become easier. Quest for Justice’s first app, JusticeDirect, is the only app of its kind designed to support people without lawyers resolve their dispute and get their money back, both in and out of court.
The first step to getting money back is through a letter demanding payment from the other party JusticeDirect offers customizable demand letters for free. If the letter demanding payment does not work, then the next step is taking them to court.
JusticeDirect* will guide users every step of the way through the small claims court process by helping them:
- Understand the legal process;
- Evaluate the pros and cons that come with taking someone to court;
- Generate small claims court forms; and,
- Avoid common mistakes when filing your forms and serving notice on the other side.
*Currently, JusticeDirect can only help litigants sue in California’s small claims court.