If I am about to receive a summons from a debt collector what should I do?

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If I am about to receive a summons from a debt collector what should I do?

I am about to receive a summon/suit from a debt collector’s lawyer. I have never been through this before. The amount of the suit, I have been disputing with the credit card company. The amount I do owe, I would like to pay however I just can’t pay it in one lump sum. What is the first action I must take? Should I contact the debt collectors lawyer?

Asked on August 26, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Kentucky

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

When you are served with the summons and complaint (the complaint is the lawsuit attached to the summons), you will need to file an answer to the complaint.  The answer denies the allegations in the complaint.  If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney can answer the complaint for you.  If you don't have an attorney, look for answer to complaint in the index of Pleading and Practice at the law library.  This will show you the format of the answer and will have sample answers.  Using the sample format, write an answer to the complaint denying the allegations in the complaint.  At the end of the answer, you will see the verification which attests to the veracity of your statements in the answer under penalty of perjury.  Include the verification at the end of your answer.  Then, file the answer with a proof of service with the court and mail a copy to the debt collector's attorney.  The proof of service confirms the date of mailing.  Your court may have a form proof of service.  If not, you can write your own proof of service by writing that you are at least 18 years of age and the attached documents were sent by first class mail unless otherwise stated to ______ (name and address of debt collector's attorney) on ________ (date).  Sign the proof of service under penalty of perjury.

The summons will tell you the amount of time you have to file the answer.  This varies from state to state.  The time period for responding starts on the date you are served with the summons and complaint.

If you don't file an answer to the complaint before the deadline, you will lose by default.  It is possible to have the default set aside if the court accepts your reason for not filing the answer in a timely manner, but don't take a chance on that.


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