How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Mississippi (2020 Guide)

George Simons

June 04, 2020

Summary: Live in Mississippi and need help responding to a debt collection lawsuit? You can use SoloSuit to guide you through the process in Mississippi.

“I hope I get sued for debt collection today!” — said no one ever.

It's fair to say that facing a debt collection lawsuit isn't anybody's idea of a good time. More than likely it's a situation that is only going to add additional stress and worries on top of your already too-long list of daily concerns.

Receiving notice of a lawsuit against you in already trying times can feel both scary and overwhelming. Chances are you've never been sued before and ideally would like professional legal help in how to respond. But if you had the money to pay for an attorney you would have just paid off your debt in the first place! It probably feels tempting to just ignore it and hope it goes away. It's important to fight that inclination and protect yourself.

This article helps to make the process of responding to a debt lawsuit a little bit easier and tells you how to answer a summons for debt collection in Mississippi. Below, you'll find helpful topics on how to answer a summons for debt collection in the Mississippi and what to expect in this type of legal action. This list includes information specific to filing in Mississippi, like Mississippi deadlines and forms.

Table of Contents

Mississippi Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Summons

To understand how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Mississippi you'll first need to know some legal terms which we will go over here.

Your first notice of the lawsuit against you was likely receiving the Summons and Complaint. This is what starts a lawsuit. The Complaint is the allegations by the plaintiff (either your creditor or a third-party collection agency that purchased the debt from your original creditor) that you are a person who owes a debt, the amount of said debt, and that you are delinquent in your payments.

The Summons is the notice from the Court that a lawsuit has begun (with the filing of the Complaint) and tells you the time period for your response. And “service” or “being served” refers to when you received these documents, usually in-person or via U.S. Mail. Often these documents will also have a “certificate of service” which states the date that you were notified.

Knowing the date of service is vital to determining your deadline to respond. In Mississippi, you have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit. It's important to keep a few things in mind:

  • These deadlines are very strict
  • The clock on your 30 days starts as soon as you are served.
  • The 30 day response time may include times that the Court is not open, like weekends or federal holidays. If the 30th day falls on one of those days, the deadline would be the next business day that the Court is open.

Abiding by this deadline is the single best thing you can do for yourself in this situation. It's tempting and very common to want to ignore a lawsuit against you. And that reaction is exactly what the party bringing the lawsuit against you (or “plaintiff” in legal terms) is banking on. Because if you don't respond to the debt collection lawsuit within the allowed time period the Court will order something called a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

A default judgment means that they win the lawsuit simply because you didn't respond to it. In some circumstances it might be possible to ask the Court to set aside a default judgment to allow you an opportunity to respond, but this is extremely rare. Once they have a default judgment in-hand, the plaintiff can come after you in more aggressive ways to collect the money, most commonly by using the Court order to garnish your paycheck or tax returns. This results in money coming out of your paycheck before you even see it, which will put you in an even worse financial position than before. And while it might be possible to ask the Court to set aside a default judgment and give you a chance to respond, it's very rare that this happens.

Knowing this, you can see just how important it is to make sure that you do respond to the lawsuit within the allowed timeframe. First of all, it throws a wrench into the works for the plaintiff, who was hoping to just intimidate you and then sit back and collect their judgment and money. If you respond, they'll need to pay their own attorneys to handle the case and it'll take time and effort on their part. They hate that. So let's do it.

Mississippi Answer to Summons Forms

There are a number of forms available online for legal actions in Mississippis but unfortunately, a template for an Answer document isn't one of them. You can see a sample Answer form here, although please note it is not specific to Mississippi. We will guide you through the process to draft a proper answer below, both in form and content, to use as your defense in your debt collection case.

If the lawsuit is filed in Justice Court (for civil matters concerning less than three thousand five hundred dollars) you can check out this helpful guide for representing yourself (also referred to as “pro bono.”)

Luckily, SoloSuit can do all the work for you by creating your Answer quickly in the proper format. With just a few questions we can translate your responses into the proper legalese and format to file in Mississippi. In addition, we'll also have an attorney review it to make sure everything is just right and then file it on your behalf so you don't need to worry about any of the details.

Steps to Respond to a Debt Collection Case in Mississippi

A lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files their Complaint against you in the Court and then serves that document along with a Summons from the Court.

You can respond in one of two ways; either an Answer document or a Motion. An Answer document is more straightforward and usually sufficient. Motions are requests made to the Court that should really be handled by attorneys as there is a lot more specific procedure involved.

As we discussed above, if you don't respond within that 30-day period, you will automatically lose your case by default judgment. All you need to do to avoid that outcome is to complete the four steps below:

  1. Create an Answer document
  2. Answer each issue of the complaint
  3. Assert affirmative defenses
  4. File one copy of the Answer document with the court and serve the plaintiff with another copy.

It's never a bad idea to make an additional copy of the paperwork for your own records as well. We will detail each step below.

1. Create an Answer Document.

Step one tom making your response to a debt collection lawsuit is creating your answer document in the proper format.

To do so, you'll need to gather the information listed on the Complaint and Summons and add it to your Answer. This includes the following:

  • Your personal information: address, name, etc.
  • The plaintiff's information: the attorney suing you, the company suing, their address, etc.
  • The Court's information: the name of the court the case is in, which division in Mississippi, the address of the court, etc.
  • The case information: the case number, cause number, index number, or civil number, the amount of the lawsuit, etc.

SoloSuit can walk you through collecting this information and then take care of all the formatting for you.

Make certain to create the caption portion (plaintiff vs. defendant etc.) in the same format as the documents you received. This is necessary to file your Answer with the Court. Once you have formatted your Answer document with the information you gathered you're ready to move on to step two.

2. Answer each issue of the Complaint.

The next step is to respond to the Complaint. It's probably a lot easier than you think.

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to every paragraph.

You'll want to read through the Complaint and consider each numbered paragraph separately, and then respond with one of the following three ways:

  • Admit
  • Deny
  • I don't know

Choose whichever of the above responses is appropriate and list it in your Answer document. Be certain to list each response beginning with the same number as the corresponding paragraph in the Complaint, so it is clear to see which response goes with each allegation.

Keep in mind that you don't need to deny each allegation in order to win (although that can be a strategic decision, more on that below.) There's no harm to admitting facts that are true, such as your name and address. You should use the third response when you can't verify something, for example, the debt collection company suing you may state that they are incorporated in Mississippi. Chances are you have no way to independently verify that claim, so saying “I don't know” as your response is perfectly fine.

As an alternative, you could go with making a general denial, where you deny everything in the complaint and force the other side to prove everything. This is a tactic often recommended by attorneys. It puts the burden of proof on the plaintiff to prove everything.

3. Assert affirmative defenses.

The third step might even be fun because this is where you get to fight back by asserting affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is a reason you can assert to show why the plaintiff doesn't have a case. There are plenty of possible affirmative defenses under Mississippi law. You can list any and all affirmative defenses that apply to your situation.

SoloSuit can show you all of the available affirmative defenses and how to determine which apply to you.

Below are some of the more common defenses we see in Mississippi debt collection cases:

  • The account listed in the Complaint is not yours. The account number might be wrong. Or perhaps you've been a victim of identity theft and someone else opened the account. If you have any documentation to support this defense (like a statement with your actual account number and/or name, or a police report you filed about the identity theft) you should reference it and include a copy in your Answer as an exhibit.
  • The debt has been paid or excused. Maybe you already paid this debt. If so, they can't collect it again. Or perhaps you came to an agreement with the creditor to pay a lesser amount to satisfy the debt in full satisfaction. Again, reference and attach any supporting documentation such as bank records showing a cashed check or online payment, or any correspondence between you and the creditor regarding a lower payment.
  • You disagree with the amount of the debt as stated in the Complaint. You can admit to owing a debt and still contest the amount if you feel it is excessive and would unjustly enrich the creditor. Usually, by the time an unpaid debt gets to the lawsuit stage, it has grown far larger than the original amount through interest, late fees, and penalties.
  • The debt was already discharged in a bankruptcy. If you previously filed a bankruptcy case and this debt was included and successfully discharged then the plaintiff cannot try to collect it through the Court. You are no longer legally responsible for a debt that has been discharged in bankruptcy.
  • The statute of limitations has expired. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline for legal action. We will discuss the Mississippi statute of limitations on debt collection in more detail later in this article.
  • You can't confirm that the plaintiff holds the debt. Chances are high that the party suing you is not the original holder of your debt. As a general practice, creditors sell off uncollected debt to third-party debt collection companies after a period of time (minimum of 90 days) has passed, for pennies on the dollar. If the company suing you is not the original debt holder you can absolutely demand that they prove, through a paper trail, that they legally purchased and hold your exact debt.

The above are just a few of the many affirmative defenses. Please note, however, that inability to pay the debt is not normally a legal defense to the debt.

You also have the opportunity here to assert counterclaims, which refers to any wrong-doing by the party suing you under Mississippi debt collection laws. This can get pretty complicated, so it's best to have legal assistance when doing so. Keep in mind that it will be up to you to prove your counterclaims at trial, so be thoughtful about any counterclaims you list. Attach any documents or evidence that supports your counterclaim. If you believe that you can prove your counterclaim(s) you will also need to fill out a “statement of damages” form stating how much money you believe is appropriate for your damages.

4. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

SoloSuit can handle this step for you so you don't need to leave the comfort of your own home

The final step is missed much more often than you'd think. Don't let all the work you've put in so far go to waste! Make sure to file your Answer with the Court and service the suing party.

Here's what you need to do to file your answer.

  • Print at least two copies of your Answer
  • Mail one copy to the court
  • Mail the other copy to the plaintiff's attorney.

As mentioned above it's a good idea to keep a copy of your Answer and any supporting documents for your own records. If you don't have access to a printer at home or at work you can try your local branch of Mississippi's public library system or an office supply store for reasonable printing rates. You'll be able to find the addresses you need for both the court and the plaintiff's counsel in the Summons and Complaint you received in the mail.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


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Statute of Limitations on Debt in Mississippi

When you're seeking any kind of Mississippi debt relief it's important to know and understand the Mississippi statute of limitations on debt relief. The statute of limitations for debt collection through the courts in Mississippi varies based on the type of debt between three and seven years. Both medical debt and credit card debts have a three-year statute of limitations, while auto loan debt can go for six years and state tax debt can go for seven years.

Mississippi Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

3

Written

3

Mortgage

3

Open

3

Credit Card

3

Auto Loan

6

State Tax Debt

7

Judgment

7


Source: Findlaw



All states have at least one government-funded organization that provides free legal services to people. In Mississippi, there are a number of legal aid organizations that help residents with legal services when they can't otherwise afford to hire an attorney.

MSLegalServices.org

Mississippi Center for Legal Services
414 South State Street, 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 951
Jackson, MS 39205
Toll-Free 1-800-498-1804

Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project
P.O. Box 1503
Jackson, MS 39215
E-mail: mvlp@mvlp.org
Phone: 601-960-9577

Mission First Legal Aid Office
275 Roseneath Street
Jackson, MS 39203
E-mail: info@missionfirst.org
Phone: 601.608.0050

Mississippi Center for Justice
5 Old River Place, Suite 203 (39202)
P.O. Box 1023 Jackson, MS 39215-1023
Phone: (601) 352-2269
Fax: (601) 352-4769

North Mississippi Rural Legal Services
Toll-Free: 1-800-498-1804

Mississippi Pro Bono Resources

Key Takeaways

So, in short, here's the review on how to answer a summons for debt collection in Mississippi.

  • Remember your response deadline is 30 days.
  • Draft an Answer in the proper format for Mississippi courts, or use or SoloSuit.com to do it for you.

Follow these three steps:

  1. Answer each issue in the complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses
  3. File and serve the Answer

Good Luck!

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection Guides for Other States

Here's a list to guides for other states.

All 50 states.