What can I do if I received a civil summons from a debt collector but don’t have the money to pay?

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What can I do if I received a civil summons from a debt collector but don’t have the money to pay?

I have 20 days to answer the summons. The only income we have is Social Security Disability. How should I handle this?

Asked on June 13, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Social security disability cannot be garnished, so your income is essentially collections proof. However, the creditor can potentially reach any money you have in the bank, any real estate, even personal property like a car, a boat, etc.If you have any savings or own anything, therefore, you do have some vulnerability, but less than most, due to the nature of your income.

You probably should answer the summons--you are allowed to so so very simply, by denying everything--which will prevent you from losing by default (basically, forfeiting). After that, speak with the collector--assuming that you agree that the debt is valid, can you work out with them some amount or payment plan that you *could* pay? If so, good--you can resolve the matter that way. If you can't, you could then stop defending, let them win, and at the point, they will have difficulty collecting from you due to the nature of your income.


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