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How to Answer a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit

Credit card debt is one of the last things you want to have to deal with, but the reality is that if you’re reading this article you are currently faced with answering a summons. That court summons you received came with a complaint also. Even if you don’t remember how you accumulated all this debt from using credit cards, you still have to respond to this summons and figure out what to do next. The whole ordeal may be new for you, and that is okay. Just make sure not to shy away from the situation and understand that even without an attorney you can beat the creditor as long as it’s not too late and as long as you’re up for a fight.

Receiving a Debt Summons

Upon receiving a court summons for credit card debt, the consumer should always read through everything carefully and read through their court rules. Although being faced with a credit card lawsuit can be a bit intimidating, the worse thing one can do is just stop before really getting started and ignore the summons as if it will all vanish into thin air. Just because one is served with a summons for debt, does not always mean that they actually owe the money that is listed by the third party collector, so be prepared to do some reading. Read the court rules, the summons, the complaint, and any other reliable resources (such as this site) for assistance in properly answering the summons for a debt lawsuit.

What is a Court Summons?

The summons lets the defendant know exactly what he needs to do and how much time he is allowed to do it. It is the courts way of communicating to the consumer that for reasons identified he is being sued, he has the right to defend themselves and he must appear in court to do so. Everyone is only given a certain number days to respond to the summons. A normal time frame is 30 days, but it can vary depending on the state the defendant resides in. Answering the summons is the first step in a collection agency lawsuit, and it lets the defendant make a bold statement also because it communicates to the debt collectors that he will be fighting back and actively participating in the case. This is something the debt collectors don’t expect from many consumers, and they aren’t too fond of the idea either. It means extra work for them.

The Discovery Process

The discovery process is an early phase of answering a debt lawsuit. Since the defendant doesn’t have every document necessary, he or she has to ask the opposing party for it, and they will have to ask the same of you. This segment was specifically designed for this reason. During this phase the defendant needs to request documents from the opposing attorney. The plaintiff will also ask the consumer for several documents and answers to interrogatories. Discovery documents include forms such as: interrogatories, request for documents or depositions, and request for admissions. The defendant can contact the court clerk’s office to find out if there are forms that can be filled out as a template.

The Debt Collection Agencies

Collection agencies are third party collectors, which means they are not the original creditor who lent the money for a credit card account in the first place. The original creditor, the bank, is where the consumer entered into a credit card contract and signed an agreement. Banks will charge off the account, place it in a portfolio and sell it to collection agencies and debt buyers.

Debt buyers purchase thousands of accounts that are past due from the original creditor. By selling off uncollected accounts to these other companies, the bank is able to make a little more money. After the consumer’s account and name are entered into the collection agency’s system, the collection process begins. Collection notices start arriving in the mail and phone calls begin to pour in.

One major reason consumers shouldn’t fear the debt collectors is because so often they do not even have the proper documents and evidence to win in the court of law. Without proof of what they are suing the defendant for, the plaintiff is unable to win the case.

Proof of Credit Card Debt

The defendant must require the junk debt buyer or debt collector to prove that he owes the money to them without a doubt and that they legally own the debt. The consumer being served a lawsuit for their credit card debt should make sure that the company suing them provides evidence of the following:

  • Ownership of the debt and legal right to sue
  • Documents showing every single cent that the defendant is being sued for
  • Documents showing that the defendant owes the original creditor the listed dollar amount

Consumers facing debt lawsuit must consult their local court rules to find out what is required to be proven in their lawsuit. Everything that the plaintiff has stated on a piece of paper is not necessarily true, especially when dealing with the debt buyers of old credit card accounts. Debt collectors do not buy old credit card accounts for the same amount that they sue consumers for. The account was not bought separately. It was bought in bulk so they are looking to make way more money than the debt is probably even worth.

Summons for Credit Card

The court summons will provide a date by which the defendant must report. If the defendant does not show up for court, the plaintiff (creditor) wins the lawsuit by default judgment. Consumers should avoid default judgment by all means. Answer the summons, turn in the necessary documents and show up in court. The consumer debt lawsuit may not even be legitimate so it is imperative to go over the fine print and the local court rules. Upon answering the summons for credit card debt, the collection agencies court will either further the lawsuit or dismiss it. Defendants should utilize affirmative defenses and make motions where applicable to get their case dismissed if they feel necessary. By answering the summons, a defendant is causing the collection company to pay attorney fees and actually work at winning the case. In most cases the collection company won’t have to work so hard because many people give up so soon and don’t fight back. If they notice that a defendant is active in the case and fighting back on the faulty debt suit, then they may just give up and move on to the next victim. The weapon is forcing these debt buyers to provide evidence. They have to show proof of the account, the original creditor, the contracts and the dollar amounts owed or have the case dismissed!

Additional Reading

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