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How to Answer a Credit Card Lawsuit

You’re over the initial shock of receiving a summons for credit card lawsuit and the fighter in you is now determined to do everything you can to fight back and win this case. By now you should have carefully studied your local court rules for any information, laws and instructions that pertain to your case. The Defendant’s Package explains more of what you need to look for before you submit an answer.

You should also make sure that you know exactly how long you have to answer. Depending on your state, you will have between 20 and 30 days to file your answer. It’s essential that you meet that deadline and you are not late. The credit card company is eagerly anticipating that date and hoping that you don’t respond within that period. If you’re late, you play into their hands and they immediately receive a default judgment against you. Therefore, although it’s a basic detail, it’s also is extremely significant.

The Complaint

Along with your summons, you will have received a complaint which basically sets out who you supposedly owe, how much they say you owe and why the plaintiff thinks you owe it. Remember, that these are only allegations at this point and nothing has been proved true yet. Study the complaint carefully and check the information according to your own records.

The Answer

This is just as it sounds: your answer and response to the complaint. It contains concise statements that directly respond to each and every allegation set out in the complaint. This is your chance to challenge the accusations and defend yourself.

A typical answer includes the following process:

  • Answer to specific allegations
  • Defenses
  • File your answer
  • Certificate of Service

It’s important to type out your response. Do not hand-write any of the answer. The Defendants package contains templates that you can use.

Your Answer to Specific Allegations

Each complaint is numbered so look at each individual complaint carefully and make sure that your responses are matched to the complaint number. For example, Answer 1 should relate to Complaint 1. You must admit or deny each statement depending on whether it is factually true or not. It’s important to understand that any allegations that go unanswered are automatically deemed ‘admitted’. It is therefore critical that you answer every single charge.

As you answer each accusation, you may refer to the numbered paragraph and use the terms ‘Admitted’ or ‘Denied’. You can also use the phrase ‘Lack of knowledge’ or ‘insufficient information to admit or deny’. This indicates that the defendant doesn’t have or hasn’t been provided with the necessary information in order to admit or deny the claim. This answer has the effect of a denial.

When you deny a complaint, you also need to explain why you are denying them. For example, when the complaint is that you are indebted to the credit card company, you could deny that allegation stating: “There is not, nor has there ever been any agreement, written, oral or implied with Plaintiff and Defendant”. They will now need to prove that you had a contract.

State Defenses

Affirmative defenses are charges against the plaintiff that, if found true, mean that even if everything the credit card company says is true, they will still lose the lawsuit. There are many affirmative defenses you can use. You will find a guide to affirmative defenses in The Defendant’s Package. Also, check with your local court rules as there may be others you can use. Use as many defenses as possible, even if you’re unsure if they apply to your case. If you don’t use them now, you may not able to use them later.

Example Affirmative Defenses:

  • Plaintiff’s complaint is time-barred – This means that the debt they’re claiming for is too old. (Check your state’s statute of limitations as they can vary from 3 -15 years).

  • Plaintiff has failed to name the real party in interest. – They have not provided proof that they even have the authority to sue you. This may be because the original credit card company sold your debt to a junk debt buyer. The junk debt buyer hasn’t provided an assignment of debt from the original creditor to show they have the rights to your account.

  • Payment – You have paid the debt in question and therefore the debt is not valid.

  • Failure to state a claim – The original creditor or the junk debt buyer did not attach a complete set of documents to the complaint. Check your state’s requirements to see what the plaintiff needs to attach to the complaint.

The Defendant’s Package explains a full list of possible affirmative defenses that you can use along with explanations.

File Your Answer

Once you have finished you answer and affirmative defenses, you need to make at least three copies. You need to file one with the clerk’s office at your local courthouse, send one to your plaintiff’s attorney and keep one for your own records. Always send your answer, or indeed any documents, by certified, registered post and keep any receipts. It’s amazing how often these letters ‘go missing’ or were ‘never received’. Without proof of postage, the plaintiff can claim that you did not send it at all.

Certificate of Service

This is a simple, signed statement that confirms that you have sent a document to the plaintiff’s attorney. Most courts require a certificate for each document. Check with your local courthouse to see if they have a certificate of service ready to be completed. If not, you will need to type your own detailing the date you sent your answer, your name, exactly what you sent and the plaintiff’s attorney’s name and address. If you’re not sure about how to create certificate of service, The Defendant’s Package contains a sample.

You have now answered your summons and you are well on your way to winning your credit card lawsuit.

For help with compiling your documents or to view samples of successful answers to credit card lawsuits, click here to learn more about The Defendant’s Package.