How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

George Simons

October 08, 2021

You can win your case if you make the right defense.

Summary: Have debt collectors tracked you down in Vermont? Find out how to answer a summons for debt collection in Vermont with SoloSuit.

Despite the relatively low unemployment rate and below-average debt levels for residents of Vermont, it may be unavoidable to encounter financial difficulties during an economic downturn, including unpaid bills and ever-increasing credit card balances.

When you fail to pay what you owe to your creditors on time, they will likely hound you with repeated phone calls, letters, emails, etc. A creditor may even sell your debt to a debt collection agency, which will pursue repayment even more aggressively. If the debt continues to be unpaid, a debt collection lawsuit will likely be filed against you.

Stop debt collectors from harassing you by filing a response with SoloSuit.

Deadline for answering a debt summons in Vermont

According to Vermont's debt collection laws, you only have 30 days to respond to a debt collection summons and complaint when served by a plaintiff. If a creditor sues you, you should not ignore the debt collection summons. Otherwise, the court will make a default judgment against you.

A default judgment means the court will decide the case in favor of the debt collector in your absence. At this point, the debtor can exercise various rights to satisfy the court's judgment. They may take extreme measures, such as wage garnishment, levying your bank account, or a judgment lien.

Vermont's answer to summons forms

An answer is an explanation, defense, or denial of the matter raised by the plaintiff in the debt collection case. Therefore, you must read and understand the complaint and the summons to prepare your Answer document correctly.

Usually, all the necessary details regarding your Answer will be on the summons, which is the top page of the document submitted by the plaintiff. Other information contained in the summons to guide the preparation and submission of your Answer form include:

  • The name and address of the court in which the plaintiff filed the lawsuit.
  • The stipulated period to file a written Answer document to the court. and plaintiff; usually 30 days in Vermont.
  • The filing fee you'll pay the court to file your Answer.

The complaint, which is usually stapled behind the summons, states:

  • Why the debt collector or creditor is suing you.
  • Actions the plaintiff wants to take to recover their debt, or what the plaintiff is asking the court to do.

If you can afford a lawyer, you may hire one to file the Answer on your behalf. But if your response is straightforward, you can represent yourself in court.

Alternatively, you can use SoloSuit to create and file the Answer document on your behalf with a few clicks of a mouse. All you need to do is fill in the required information, and the document will be prepared for you.

Respond to a debt collection lawsuit in 15 minutes with SoloSuit.

Steps to respond to a debt collection case in Vermont

In Vermont, you have up to 30 days after receiving the debt collection summons and complaint to file your Answer. Failing to respond within the stipulated time could mean losing the case. That's not all; the court will make a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

To prevent this from happening, follow the steps below:

Create an answer document

The first step is to create an Answer Document containing all the relevant information, such as:

  • Personal information that includes your name and address.
  • Information on the plaintiff, such as their name and the name of the attorney representing them.
  • Court information, such as the case number and the name and address of the court.

The deadline for filing your Answer depends on the court where you intend to file. For example, you have 21 days to mail your Answer to the Supreme Court and 30 days to mail your Answer to the Small Claims Court.

Sometimes the date on the summons will be different from the date the plaintiff served you with the debt collection summons and complaint. In this case, it may be helpful to indicate the date you received the summons and begin your 30 or 21-day countdown from there.

If you have a counterclaim, you should include it in your Answer. A counterclaim is a lawsuit brought forward by a defendant (you) in an existing case. First, you'll need to indicate 'Counterclaim' on the document, then write your counterclaim under it.

Use SoloSuit to respond to debt collectors and win your case.

Answer each issue of the complaint

The next step is to answer each paragraph of the complaint. Usually, the process is straightforward. You can respond with:

  • I agree
  • I disagree
  • I don't know

If you do not have the records or documents to prove or deny the statement made by the plaintiff in the complaint, you should answer, 'I don't know.' You should also include your mailing address in the Answer document. If you change the address during the case, you should inform the plaintiff and the court.

Assert affirmative defenses

An affirmative defense is the kind of evidence you present to the court to stop the plaintiff from winning the case. It is crucial to carefully consider the affirmative defense you submit to the court because you'll need to prove its validity.

While many defenses are legally viable for not paying a debt, the inability to pay the debt is not an affirmative defense. Such a defense won't help you win the case against the plaintiff.

Some of the affirmative defenses you can use in your debt collection case include:

Identify theft: The plaintiff may be suing you over a debt that you don't owe the creditor because of identity theft. If you believe this to be the case, you should file a police report, review your credit reports and file an affidavit of forgery. You may then present these documents as evidence in court.

Partial or complete payment: If you have made partial payments towards settling the debt that the plaintiff is suing you for, you can state that in court as an affirmative defense. The court can rule in your favor if you prove that you made partial payments and settled the debt in question.

Statute of limitation: In Vermont, the Statute of Limitations ranges between four and fourteen years. A Statute of Limitations is the timeframe within which a debt collector can legally pursue you for a debt. If this time has already elapsed, the debt is considered time-barred.

The debt collector cannot, therefore, legally pursue legal action against you. Often, this is grounds for the dismissal of the lawsuit.

Lack of standing: This is a powerful affirmative defense to use in court. Lack of standing means that the debt collector has no legal basis for filing a lawsuit. The lack of legal basis occurs when there is no clear and legal assignment of the debt to the debt collector. When there is no proven documentation for transferring debt from the original creditor to the debt collector, you can raise that as your affirmative defense and use it to win the case.

Debt has been previously discharged in bankruptcy: If the debt you're being sued for was part of a previous bank petition and a court discharged the debt according to the bankruptcy code of Vermont, the plaintiff can no longer sue for the debt. You can easily win the case by presenting court records that prove the debt was part of a bankruptcy case.

Failure to state course of action: The complaint served by the plaintiff must state a proper course of action. The complaint should, at a minimum, state why you are liable to the plaintiff and prove that you do indeed owe them a debt.

It is important to note that Vermont does not require licensing for debt collection agencies. Lack of licensure is therefore not an affirmative defense you can raise in a debt lawsuit in Vermont. Even though it's not a requirement, debt collection agencies may still need a certificate of authority which requires a filing fee of $125.

That said, debt collection agencies must still comply with state, federal, and local debt collection laws.

Make the right affirmative defense with SoloSuit.

File the answer in court and serve the plaintiff

The last step is to file your Answer to the plaintiff and the court before the deadline elapses. You should send a copy of the Answer to the plaintiff or attorney representing them and keep another for your records. Remember that the deadline for the small claims court is 30 days, while that of the superior court is 21 days.

Vermont's filing fees

To file your Answer or counterclaim in response to a lawsuit in Vermont, you will be required to pay a filing fee. The maximum filing fee for a superior court is $235, while that of a small claims court is $65.

If you cannot afford these fees, you can complete a court-provided waiver form and present it to the court clerk, who may waive the fee, enabling you to file your documents at no charge.

Understanding the statute of limitations in Vermont

Vermont Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Credit Card

6

Medical

6

Auto Loan

4

State Tax

6

Mortgage

14

Written

8

Oral

6

Judgment

10


Source: Findlaw

In Vermont, the creditor has between four and 14 years to sue you over a debt. When this time elapses, they can no longer take any legal action against you. Note that they can still contact you in an attempt to recover the debt.

Also, keep in mind that processing any payment for a time-barred debt will restart the debt's Statute of Limitations. It is therefore critical to check your debt's Statute of Limitations before initiating any repayment programs.

Vermont has state laws and additional federal debt collection protections that ensure that debt collectors maintain proper debt collection practices. The Justice Department can prosecute individuals found flouting the rules.

Even though you do not need to pay for a debt whose Statute of Limitations has already expired, if you receive a summons for such a debt, it is best not to ignore it.

You can always file your Answer with SoloSuit, which is faster and easier than the traditional options. After submitting your Answer via SoloSuit, one of their customer protection attorneys will review the entire document, send a copy to the court, and another to the complainant.

Respond with SoloSuit fast and beat debt collectors in court.

Vermont legal aid organizations

When considering debt relief programs and legal aid organizations, you need to carry out thorough research before signing up for any service or plan. While many reputable organizations will genuinely assist you, some deliberately scam and deceive their customers.

Here are a few legit legal aid organizations available in Vermont:

  • The United Way: This is a national aid organization with local chapters in Vermont. The United Way will provide you with information and resources related to financial support and debt relief.
  • GreenPath: This organization can be very resourceful, especially if you are in a dire financial situation. GreenPath offers free over-the-phone debt counseling. They also provide financial information and education on debt management.
  • Credit.org or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling: These reputable national organizations connect you to a debt counselor who then guides you in managing your debt.
  • Vermont Department of Financial Regulation: Even though this is not a credit counseling agency, it helps verify the licensure of any private debt consolidation agency you may be interested in before agreeing to any long-term plans.

Often, being sued over debt can cause stress, panic, and in extreme cases, depression. Understanding the unique laws and resources available to you can help you navigate most debt situations successfully. While summons and complaints from the debt collector can be scary, you should never forget that there are consumer protection laws in place to protect you from exploitative debt collectors.

Contacting an attorney or filing a response via SoloSuit can help ease the pressure from debt collectors. Ensure that you follow all steps required to answer the plaintiff's summons and Complaint and file your Answer within the stipulated timeline.

Understanding your options and taking advantage of all the available resources will help you make wise decisions while keeping debt collectors at bay. Remember, SoloSuit makes answering a debt collection summons easier, quicker, and stress-free!

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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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

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