March 04, 2021
Summary: Being sued for debt can be a scary situation. Find out how to answer a lawsuit for debt collection with SoloSuit.
If you have received any form of communication with a debt collector, then you may feel overwhelmed and not be sure where to turn. More than 70 million Americans are dealing with a debt collection lawsuit, or have at one time.
Whether you have been served with a paper summons to go to court or you are being called by a debt collector, it is important to know how to answer a lawsuit for debt collection. If you know what to do after you have been served with a lawsuit, the entire process can go a lot more smoothly overall, and you have more of a chance to have a better outcome.
The most essential part of answering a lawsuit for debt collection is to answer it on time. If you do not respond to the notice in a timely fashion, you run the risk of a default judgment.
Even if you know that you owe the debt but think that you cannot pay it, you still need to answer. If the collection agency is able to obtain a default judgment against you, then this provides them the opportunity to garnish your wages, or even take money directly from your bank account.
In the event a default judgment occurs, a debt collector may also be able to force you to pay attorney's fees, the court costs, as well as added interest of your entire balance. This can result in either double or triple the cost of your original lawsuit.
The collection agency is called the plaintiff in a debt lawsuit. Once the lawsuit is filed and put before the court, it means that you will not be able to respond by phone or a letter. Instead, you need to file a legal Answer.
When you file your answer it must be done within a specific period. This is always set by the lawsuit summons and is often anywhere from 20 to 30 days from the date of the notice. Don't miss the deadline or it will lead to a default judgment. Essentially, missing the deadline is the same as not responding. Additionally, after a judgment is entered you will no longer be able to dispute the debt from then on.
One of the best ways to respond to a debt lawsuit is to challenge the right to sue the person that has filed the lawsuit. Although not as common with original creditors, typically once the debt gets to the hands of a debt collector it will have been passed through many hands. This means that typically the original information regarding the debt will have been lost.
At this point, the company that has purchased the debt must provide proof that they have a right to sue you for the debt. As we mentioned, if you do not respond then the judges will automatically give you a default judgment. Even if there is no proof that you owe the debt, the judgment won't go to seek this information. The court will always see your silence as an acceptance of the debt.
If you ask for documentation in writing, or if you show up at the hearing and ask for documentation, the judge will most likely award your request.
The plaintiff (debt collector) when asked, must provide:
The burden of proof is a legal requirement to prove the following:
When you are served with a debt lawsuit, you have the opportunity to push back on this burden of proof. Not only can you require proof of the amount you owe, but you can also continue to push for proof of how you owe it. This might include asking for proof of when and how the balance increased at different points in time, whether it was increased by fees, and why the balance is accurate.
The statutes of limitations are a law that governs how long creditors are legally allowed to bring a lawsuit to the court regarding debt. In every state the statute of limitations is different, but most often falls between four to six years. After the statute is over, your debt will then be time-barred. Although you can be pursued for the debt, you can not be legally taken to court.
Know that the statute of limitations starts on the last day you were active on the account. This means that the last time you used a credit card or drew funds from a loan account will start the statute of limitations over again. Once a debt collection lawsuit has begun, you must avoid paying on the debt in any manner as this will start the statute over again.
Whatever decision you decide to make about defending your debt, it is essential that send an Answer to the debt lawsuit you have been served with. Your financial history continues to grow and develop your entire life. If you allow debt to get out of hand, this can impact your credit score and prevent you from making other financial moves in your life. Always respond to a debt lawsuit and look for a way to settle it as soon as possible.
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.
"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
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.