How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Georgia

George Simons

October 08, 2021

Don't ignore debt collectors.

Summary: Are you being sued for a past due balance in Georgia? Learn how to answer a summons for debt collection in Georgia with SoloSuit.

Due to the tough economic times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have encountered a disruption, or outright loss, of employment. As a result, a higher percentage of people are struggling to put food on the table, let alone make timely payments on their loans, whether it be a home loan, student loan, credit card, or combination.

If you are already struggling financially, dealing with debt collectors can be very stressful and emotionally draining. You may even ignore their correspondence and mailings in the hopes that their collection efforts will wane and ultimately stop. Unfortunately, this is not how it usually works. In fact, if you do not respond to a debt collector, there is a good chance they will escalate the matter to litigation.

Do not ignore a summons and complaint filed by a debt collector. Why? Because if you fail to respond to the summons, the court will assume all the allegations levied by the debt collector are true and enter summary judgment against you. Unfortunately, failing to respond to a legal complaint filed by a debt collector is quite common.

Public data indicates that roughly ten million Americans are sued in debt collection lawsuits every year in the United States and only 10 percent of people respond to the lawsuit. This means the remaining 90 percent fail to respond and effectively waive the white flag enabling the debt collector to obtain a default judgment.

Once a default judgment is entered, the debt collector is empowered to seize assets and even garnish your wages. To avoid this situation, you need to file an Answer that formally responds to the summons and complaint filed by the debt collector.

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Georgia deadline for answering a debt collection summons

According to Georgia's debt collection laws, a defendant generally has 30 days to file an answer to a summons and complaint after it has been served. If there are extenuating circumstances that delayed service of process, you could potentially ask the court for an extension and obtain an additional 15 days to file a response.

However, if you fail to file an answer after 45 days has elapsed, there is a high likelihood that the court will find in favor of the debt collector. Basically, the debt collector can show that you didn't comply with the above-described response deadline, you could be at risk of losing the case by the court entering a default judgment against you.

Georgia answer to summons forms

Filing an Answer to a summons and complaint is important because it provides you the chance to formally respond, and contest the allegations levied by the debt collector. When drafting your answer, you can deny, accept, or notify the court that you don't have enough information to either deny or accept particular allegations levied by the debt collector.

For your Answer document to be acceptable, it has to be in the correct format and address all the claims levied by the debt collector in its complaint. If not, there is a risk that the court will find in favor of the debt collector on the uncontested claims, even if you filed your Answer within the statutory deadline.

To avoid potential pitfalls, such as failing to respond to all claims, consider using SoloSuit to draft a thorough, detailed Answer. When utilizing the services provided by SoloSuit, you can simply input the required information which will then automatically generate a formal Answer document for you.

When assessing the specific allegations levied by the debt collector, please be advised that the complaint typically includes numbered paragraphs stipulating the allegations. You can either deny, accept, or state that you are not sure about some of the complaints stated in the paragraphs.

Note that the debt collector will not need to prove before the court any of the claims you accepted. For this reason, the judge will issue a judgment for such debts automatically. For the claims that you have denied, the debt collector will need to offer substantial proof to show that they are valid. It is not advisable to deny claims you know are true. If you deny such claims, the judge will have reason to doubt you.

As for the allegations that you claim not to have enough information, the debt collector will need to provide additional proof to you and the court. Also, you are free to issue a counterclaim to the debt collector. If you choose this option, you need to include the counterclaim in a separate document and mail it to the court and plaintiff together with your Answer.

Respond to debt collectors fast with SoloSuit.

Answer filing fees for Georgia

To file a court case or an Answer, you will need to pay a filing fee. This fee is unique to every county. In Georgia, the fee ranges from $45 to $60, depending on the country and the type of court.

If you genuinely cannot afford to pay the filing fee, you may contact the court clerk to have some of the court fees waived or, better yet, forgiven. In most cases, the court will only accept your request if you are a recipient of public benefits, such as food stamps, or you can prove that your income cannot sustain your family and court fees at the same time.

How to respond to a debt collection case in Georgia

Your case begins as soon as you receive the summons and complaint form. The plaintiff will serve you in person; however, any other person close to you of sound mind and legal age can receive the documents on your behalf. The second option is to prevent you from claiming that you didn't receive the documents.

After being served, you have 30 days to draft your Answer and mail a copy to both the court and the plaintiff. However, if you feel you were wrongly served, for example, if you already paid the debt or were not the person who took the loan, you should draft a motion to dismiss the summons.

The dismissal motion should be sent before the Answer, halting the 30-day deadline in which you were to submit an answer. If the court rejects your dismissal motion, you'll have 30 days to submit an Answer to the court. If you are financially unable to pursue the case, consider filing for bankruptcy to have all debt collection efforts against you dropped.

Your other option will be to contact the debt collector or the creditor and ask them for a new repayment plan, or a means to settle the debt out of court. This option will help you save your time and legal fees. However, if you chose to go forward with the case, then you will need to do the following.

Make a solid defense with SoloSuit.

Create an answer document

As mentioned earlier, your Answer document should have your personal information and address, your attorney's personal information and address, information on the suing party, the case number, and the details of the court where your case will be heard.

Rather than creating the answer document by yourself, which is not only time-consuming but also complicated, you can utilize SoloSuit's web application to assist in creating a quality answer.

Answer each issue of the complaint

As mentioned, it is extremely important to respond to each allegation in the debt collector's complaint. Your response should be one of the following:

  • Acceptance of the allegation.
  • Denying the allegation
  • Advising the court and the debt collector that you do not have enough information and therefore cannot accept or deny the claim.

Assert affirmative defenses

If proven correct, affirmative defenses are any reasons to mitigate the legal consequences of not paying your debt on time. The court can dismiss the lawsuit based on your affirmative defenses or reduce the amount owed.

You can assert affirmative defenses if a debt collector serves you, but you are not the individual they believe owes them the debt. This error usually happens if you share a name with the rightful borrower or someone stole your personal information and used it to get a loan.

Secondly, debt collectors have a strict set of rules they need to follow. If they break any of these rules, you can sue them, and the court will dismiss the case.

Generally, in Georgia, debt collectors cannot:

  • Threaten you.
  • Tell anyone about the debt.
  • Serve you with a revealing envelope.
  • Contact you before 8 am or after 9 pm Georgia time.
  • Contact you at work if they know your employer does not permit personal calls.
  • Contact you personally when they are aware you have an attorney.

If you had already successfully filed for bankruptcy, or if you filed for bankruptcy after the plaintiff served you and your bankruptcy case was approved, then the lawsuit will be automatically dismissed.

If you already cleared the debt in full yet were still served, you can evade the lawsuit by providing proof of payment.

Sometimes, the debt collector may charge an interest rate that does not align with the initial creditor's rates offered to you when taking the loan. If you can prove this, the court will reduce the amount you need to pay.

If you can prove that you were not of sound mind when you took the loan or are not of sound mind during the case, the court can waive or reduce the debt.

Use SoloSuit and the right affirmative defense to win your case.

File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff

Lastly, you need to make three copies of the answer document. Mail one copy to the address where the summons and complaint came from, send another copy to the debt collector's attorney, and then keep the final copy with you for future references.

It is advisable to mail the documents via priority mail for faster delivery, especially when facing stiff deadlines. Alternatively, you could deliver the Answer documents in person to the court's clerk and the offices of your debt collectors.

Statute of limitations on collecting debt in Georgia

Georgia Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Medical

4

Credit Card

4

Auto Loan

4

State Tax

7

Written contracts

6


Source: Findlaw

The statute of limitations, popularly known as the prescriptive period, refers to the maximum amount of time after an event occurs within which an affected party can press legal charges. The legislative body in Georgia set the statute of limitations at four years in debt collection and destruction of personal property cases.

It is important to note that the four-year countdown starts from the first day of your default payment. In most cases, in an attempt to recover the amount owed earlier than intended, debt collectors may try to convince you that the countdown starts from the day of your last payment.

The statute of limitations is by far the best affirmative defense as there is no way around it. If you can prove the four-year period has expired, then you will automatically win the case. This decision is not dependent on whether or not you owe the debt.

Don't let debt collectors intimidate you. File a response with SoloSuit.

Georgia legal aid organizations

Understandably, people who default on paying their debts are already facing financial constraints; therefore, they cannot afford legal fees.

If you live in Georgia and find yourself in such a situation, you can check out this site for a list of nonprofit organizations that offer free or low-cost legal services to qualifying persons.

If you happen to have been in the military or are in active service, check out the military legal assistance program. It connects military personnel to state bar members offering pro bono services or discounts.

Key takeaways

To sum up, here are some important things you need to know about when drafting an Answer to a debt collection summons in Georgia:

  • While receiving a debt collection summons can be stressful, it is not advisable to ignore them. Ignoring a summons does not mean that the debt will magically disappear from your records.
  • When you ignore a summons and complaint, it will likely result in the debt collector filing a motion for default judgment that will probably be granted by the court, since you did not respond.
  • To stand a chance in a legal battle against a debt collector in Georgia, you need to take action and timely file an Answer to the debt collector's complaint within the 30 days.

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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