How should I respond to a summons regarding a debt?

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How should I respond to a summons regarding a debt?

I got served with a summons regarding a $1,300 debt. The debt was from a credit card issued by Chase Bank. However, the debt was bought. I’m not currently able to pay off the debt, although I may be able to once I sell my car. I’m unemployed, and I don’t own a house or any other items of substantial value. What’s my best move? Should I file an answer with the court?

Asked on May 14, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Colorado

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable to file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve it by mail on the opposing party or the opposing party's attorney.  If you don't file an answer to the complaint and serve it by mail on the opposing party within the time set forth in the summons, the opposing party will get a default judgment entered against you.  At this time, you are judgment proof and the credit card company wouldn't be able to enforce the default judgment if you don't have any assets and are unemployed.  However, if your situation changes and you find another job, the default judgment could be enforced with a wage garnishment.  If you were to challenge the default judgment, you would need a valid reason to support a motion to set aside the default.  For example, if you hadn;t been served, that would be a valid reason to have the default set aside.

The credit card company may get a judgment against you eventually if you file the answer to the complaint and litigate the case, but litigation will delay getting a judgment against you.  Also, if the credit card company eventually gets a judgment against you in the course of litigation, it has to wait a certain amount of time before enforcing the judgment.  The amount of time varies from state to state.

There is also a possibility that by litigating the case, the case may be settled before going through all phases of litigation.  It might be settled for a lesser amount than the present $1300.

The credit card companies are usually willing to negotiate.


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