If I’m being sued in small claims court for a credit card debt, what are my rights and/or defenses?

UPDATED: Jul 18, 2011

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If I’m being sued in small claims court for a credit card debt, what are my rights and/or defenses?

I’m a full time-student. I set up a payment plan about a year ago with the attorney but was unable to make the payments. Now I’m being sued in small claims court. Will I have another opportunity to set up payments? If I file a response, what should I say in response? If they win, will the money come out of my bank account or will I be able to make payments through the court?

Asked on July 18, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In  the small claims court system of most Sates in this country, the parties appear and argue their case without a lawyer. You state that you had an agreement to make payments on your credit card but failed to do so. In essence you broke the contract for the payment plan and your credit card company wants to start getting paid again.

You should answer the complaint if required and at the very least attend the small claims court hearing in person so you do not lose by default. In your response, you might state a willingness to make installment payments. In the meantime, you should try and work out a new payment plan with the credit card company. If you do, make sure the payment plan agreement is in writing signed/dated by you and the credit card representative.

If you do not reach an agreement for installment payments and lose the small claims court action, you would be obligated to pay the whole amount without installments unless there is a subsequent agreement for this.

It sounds as though you owe the money. If you can make installment payments to the credit card company, then perhaps this is the best option if you cannot pay off the whole amount.

Good luck.

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