How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in North Dakota

George Simons

October 08, 2021

Debt collectors will take what's yours without hesitation.

Summary: Got a debt collector in North Dakota after you for a past due balance? Worried they'll take everything you've got? Learn how to answer a summons for debt collection in North Dakota with SoloSuit.

If you live in North Dakota and were served with a summons for debt collection from a creditor or debt collection agency, you are probably feeling anxious and worried about what to do next and the ramifications of this lawsuit.

Individuals being subjected to harassment and litigation by debt collectors is, unfortunately, quite common in North Dakota. Why? Because state law authorizes creditors to turn over accounts with revolving balances to debt collectors, even when someone is consistently making monthly payments towards the debt.

If you are tempted to simply ignore the debt collector's lawsuit, disavow the temptation and prioritize taking action. Why? Because ignoring the summons for debt collection will likely result in the debt collector obtaining a default judgment against you. If that happens, the debt collector will be empowered to seize your assets and garnish your wages. Do not allow this to happen. Be proactive and draft an Answer to the debt collector's Complaint.

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When a defendant files an Answer, it provides a formal response to the allegations contained within the Complaint. You can admit to some, or all, of the allegations. You can deny some, or all, of the allegations. You can also advise the court that there is insufficient information to admit or deny.

Another proactive step you can take in responding to the debt collector's Complaint is filing a counterclaim. This option may be viable if you believe the creditor or debt collector violated the law, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

North Dakota deadline for answering a debt collection summons

According to North Dakota debt collection laws, you must file a written response within 21 days after receiving a debt collection claim. The summons for debt collection indicates what would happen if you miss the deadline and lists all the claims made against you by the debt collector.

After carefully reviewing the summons and complaint, you must provide a written answer before the deadline elapses. If the 21st day after being served is a weekend or holiday, the deadline extends to a subsequent day that isn't a weekend or holiday. If you fail to answer after 21 days, the plaintiff can go ahead and apply for default judgment without informing you.

A default judgment will put your assets and income at risk if the debt collector enforces the judgment. It can as well impact your credit score negatively. Also, if you fail to plead, appear or defend yourself, the plaintiff will serve you a motion to enter a default judgment and submit the same to the court.

Appearing in action can be as simple as writing to the plaintiff or verbal communication with the plaintiff. Receiving a debt collection summons does not determine a civil action; it's your Answer that determines how the lawsuit will move forward. This explains why SoloSuit is one of the best ways to prepare your answers, ensuring that the information provided is correct.

Avoid a default judgment by filing a response with SoloSuit.

North Dakota answer to summons forms

Before answering a debt collection summons form, check with the North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions if the debt collector has a valid license. After confirming that the debt collector is genuine, validate the debt to ensure it belongs to you and that you haven't paid it already.

If the debt is not valid, you can write to the debt collector and inform them to stop contacting you about the debt in question. You can also sue the debt collector if they started the debt collection case outside the Statute of Limitations.

If the debt is valid, you must file a written response admitting to the complaints in the debt collection summons. In a situation where you don't have enough information to admit or deny a claim, you must state so in your Answer.

The court deems failure to deny a given claim as admittance to the claim. Also, it is advisable to present your defense to the claims made by the debt collector in short and plain statements. If you choose to file a counterclaim, it needs to meet the requirements of a formal complaint. You'll have to file the counterclaim together with your Answer to the plaintiff's complaint.

You should deliver the Answer documents to the plaintiff within 21 days after receiving a debt collection claim. The state district court ascertains the period by checking the proof of service documents stating when, where, and how the plaintiff served the debt collection summons.

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The Answer may include some or all of the following:

  • Admission of facts alleged by the debt collector.
  • Denials of allegations made by the debt collector.
  • Affirmative defenses.
  • Counterclaims or cross-claims against the debt collector.

In North Dakota, you may not always find online forms to fill in the required information in your Answer. If you don't find the appropriate answer form on the official North Dakota courts website, you may need to create the answer document by yourself.

Alternatively, you can let SoloSuit help you answer the North Dakota debt collection summons. The platform creates and fills the answer form on your behalf. Then, an attorney will go through the form to check if it's admissible in court.

Answer filing fees for North Dakota

You'll pay a filing fee of $50.00 to file your Answer in North Dakota. If you can not raise the amount, you can go ahead and make a fee waiver request.

You must indicate your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses when filling the waiver request form to ascertain you're unable to afford the filing fee. Also, ensure you file the waiver request simultaneously with your Answer, affidavit of service, and confidential information form.

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Steps to respond to a debt collection case in North Dakota

Your debt collection case begins as soon as you receive a summons and complaint from the debt collector. This explains why you need to respond with your defense to the complaint as soon as you receive it. You can choose either of the options listed below after the debt collector serves you with a summons:

  • Serve an Answer to the complaint.
  • File a motion to dismiss the case.
  • Contact the debt collector about settling the debt.
  • Consider bankruptcy options.

If you choose to file a motion to dismiss the case, you must file it before serving an Answer. This option applies if you do not believe you were properly served with the summons. The motion may delay the formal answering of the complaint unless denied by a judge. If the judge denies the motion to dismiss the case, you'll need to serve and file your Answer to the court and plaintiff as outlined in the procedure below:

1. Create your answer document

The answer document includes relevant information from the summons and complaint documents served by the plaintiff. You can use sample answer documents or create your document that follows a specific format. The document must include your personal information, plaintiff information, and court information.

Answer each issue raised in the complaint

To do this, you need to respond to every issue raised by the plaintiff in the complaint document. Read every paragraph carefully and respond by either admitting to the issues raised, denying specific issues, or indicating you don't have enough information to respond to the complaints.

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2. Assert affirmative defenses

By asserting affirmative defenses, it means you wish to introduce evidence that would prevent the debt collector from winning the case if found to be credible. For instance, to win a debt collection case by the affirmative defense, you need to prove you do not owe the plaintiff any amount or the amount you owe the plaintiff is less than what they stated in the complaint.

Note that you cannot use the inability to pay the debt as an affirmative defense to your case. Some examples of affirmative defenses that apply to debt collection civil actions in North Dakota include:

The court doesn't have subject-matter jurisdiction to handle your case

If you can prove that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court can dismiss the entire case, and even if the judge renders judgment, it won't be binding. A lack of subject matter jurisdiction means that the court does not have the power to handle that kind of case.

The plaintiff didn't serve the summons and complaints properly

If the plaintiff did not follow due process when serving you the summons and complaint documents, you can delay the entire process and buy more time to argue your case.

It's a case of identity theft or mistaken identity

This scenario happens when the plaintiff makes a mistake and sends a debt collection summons to the wrong person. The mistake could be due to an error in their records or identity theft that led to someone else taking debt in your name.

You cleared the debt in full

If you can prove that you paid the debt in full, you'll easily win the case. To prove these, you may present copies of transactions or other relevant documents before the court.

Partial payment was accepted as full payment for the debt

If you have proof of payment to show that the creditor received a certain amount and accepted it as full payment, you can convince the court and evade paying the debt in question.

The debt is subject to bankruptcy hearing

If your bankruptcy application was successful and the court discharged the debt as part of the case, the plaintiff cannot sue you for a debt that was part of the bankruptcy case. If you can prove that, then you can easily win the case.

Claim already decided in a different court

The plaintiff cannot sue you for a debt that is already litigated in another court case. You can easily win the case if you have the case number of the previous hearing, the date, and the state where the case was heard.

The statute of limitations has expired

If the plaintiff did not serve you a debt collection summons within the statute of limitation, then you have a right to use it as an affirmative defense. A Statute of Limitations is a law that sets a certain amount of time that parties involved in a dispute have to begin a legal proceeding. The time usually starts from the date of the alleged offense to the set deadline.

You are an active duty member

If you're on active military service or released from active duty for not more than 90 days, you can ask the court to stop the case because you cannot participate in it.

No proof of debt ownership

Some debt collection cases involve situations where the plaintiff buys the debt from a creditor. For this reason, you can compel the plaintiff to prove ownership of the debt.

Wrong debt amount

If there is an error in the total amount owed, you may not win the case, but you might pay less money than the initial amount indicated on the summons.

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

You need to arrange the delivery of answer documents to the debt collector within 21 days after receiving the summons and complaint. The Answer can be physically handed over to the court and plaintiff or mailed to them.

Alternatively, you can let SoloSuit prepare your answer document, which is faster and easier. Did you know that 90% of Americans in debt do not win their cases because they do not know how to respond to a debt collection summons? This explains why it is a great idea to use SoloSuit!

Use SoloSuit and the right affirmative defense to win in court.

Statute of limitations on debt in North Dakota

North Dakota Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Credit Card

6

Medical

6

Auto Loan

4

State Tax

6 (10 if not filed)

Judgments

10

Written

6

Oral

6


Source: Findlaw

The statute of limitation is the period allowed by law that a debt collector can bring a debt collection claim in a civil action. In North Dakota, the statute of limitation is as follows:

Also, bear in mind that the court can review the statute of limitation period if you're on active duty in the military, filed a bankruptcy case, or were absent from the North Dakota state.

The statute of limitation clock restarts afresh when you make a partial payment for the debt, or provide a written acknowledgment of the debt.

North Dakota legal aid organizations

Legal aid organizations in North Dakota provide free legal services to residents who can't afford to pay for legal assistance. The Legal Services of North Dakota is an example of such an organization.

Key takeaways

When you receive a debt collection summons, the best thing to do is respond to it by serving an Answer to the court and plaintiff. You can use SoloSuit to draft your Answer, which is easier and faster, or respond as outlined in the procedure below:

  1. Create an Answer Document
  2. Answer each issue of the Complaint
  3. Assert affirmative defenses
  4. Submit the Answer to the court and plaintiff

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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