What to Do if You Receive a Court Summons for Debt Collection

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What to Do if You Receive a Court Summon for Debt Collection

Opening your mail after a long day to find a would discourage anyone. It can be a frightening experience, but it can't be ignored. How you respond depends on whether the debt collector adhered to the following process:

  1. Notified you that you had an unpaid debt.
  2. Sent a debt validation letter documenting the debt.
  3. Provided a verification letter if you requested it.

If you haven't requested a verification letter, you should and this is where DoNotPay can help.

Make sure to respond that the debt was not yours or that you wanted to resolve the debt. If you didn't reply or could not resolve the debt, the collection agency can sue.

How to Respond to Court Summons

Once the collection agency has initiated a lawsuit, you will receive a indicating the date and time to appear in court. You should not ignore the summons. You need to file a response with the court. You can challenge the lawsuit or acknowledge the debt.

Acknowledge Debt

There are usually three options that you may tick when acknowledging debt:

AdmitThis means that the debt is valid. Keep in mind though to be very specific to what you are admitting. If there is a portion that you are unsure of, do not admit anything.

If the debt is valid, you can file a response indicating you:

  • Acknowledge the debt, but want to continue with the lawsuit.
  • Acknowledge debt, but want to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
  • Respond that you have insufficient income or assets, and wages cannot be garnished. Under the CCPA Title III, limits are placed on the amount that can be taken from your wages. If you fall below a set threshold, they cannot garnish your wages.
  • Indicate your debt is too substantial and are filing for bankruptcy
DenyThis means that the debt is invalid and you are disputing the allegation. If there’s a slight inconsistency in the document, like an inaccurate amount in the complaint, then deny that statement.
Lacks KnowledgeIf you are unsure or got incomplete information about the complaint, you may tick this option.

Depending on the size of the debt, you may want to contact an attorney.

Challenge the Lawsuit

You can respond with a challenge to the lawsuit if you believe the debt is not valid. The most common challenges come from the following:

  1. The wrong person is being sued.
  2. The amount of debt is incorrect.
  3. Debt has been paid.
  4. The statute of limitations has passed. The statute of limitations varies by state. DoNotPay can help you find the regulations for your state.

To challenge a lawsuit, you will need to include the validation and verification letters with your response. In your response, be sure to include documentation that:

  • Establishes your identity
  • Demonstrates the unpaid amount.
  • Indicates the debt has been paid.
  • Shows that the statute of limitations applies
  • Illustrates that your FDCPA rights were violated

You will need to provide all supporting documentation if you want to successfully challenge a lawsuit. You should ensure you have all documents with you when you appear in court.

How Not to React to a Court Summons

Panic may be your first response, but wait until you've had some time to review your options before deciding what to do. What you should NOT do is:

  1. Do not give the collection agency access to financial information.
  2. Do not ignore the summons.
  3. Do not agree to the first repayment option.

You may want to contact an attorney or legal aid group to help you resolve your debt.

How DoNotPay Can Help

If you believe your FDCPA rights have been violated, or you want to request a verification letter, DoNotPay can help using the following three steps:

  1. Search “debt collection” on DoNotPay.

  2. Answer a series of questions about the debt collectors, including when you were contacted and how you were contacted, so we can determine if they have violated any debt collection laws.

  3. Decide which course of action you want to take based on our guidance, such as filing a debt verification request, demanding for the collectors to stop contacting you, or reporting them to the CFPB.

Depending on your course of action, DoNotPay will deliver your verification request directly to the debt collectors via first-class mail. If your rights have been violated, DoNotPay will file your complaint automatically with the CFPB.

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