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How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Alaska

George Simons | June 21, 2024

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD-MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: If you received a summons for debt in Alaska, you must respond within 20 days or you might lost automatically. To respond, you must submit a legal Answer document addressing each claim against you and listing relevant defenses. File the Answer with your local Alaska court and send a copy to the plaintiff. Use SoloSuit's Answer form to get started.

When you find out you're being sued for debt collection, you may be feeling overwhelmed and anxious about your financial future. The thought of simply ignoring the lawsuit may be tempting, especially if you are feeling intimidated at the idea of going to court to argue about an unpaid debt. Unfortunately, ignoring the summons will not make it go away. Failing to respond to the summons simply means you are raising the white flag of defeat and handing victory over to the debt collector.

The good news is that responding on your own to a debt collection lawsuit doesn't have to be intimidating, whether you're working with SoloSuit or you decide to arm yourself with more information. This article walks you through the steps to provide your own response to a debt collector's lawsuit in Alaska, including deadline information and forms specific to Alaska.

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Table of Contents

The deadline for answering a debt summons in Alaska is 20 days

If a debt collector serves you with a debt summons and complaint in Alaska, you only have 20 days to file your Answer and serve the plaintiff. Alternatively, you should serve the plaintiff's attorney if the plaintiff has an appointed attorney. If you fail to respond to the summons within the 20-day deadline, the plaintiff can ask the court to declare default judgment against you. This is outlined in Alaska R. Civ. P. 55:

"When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to appear and answer or otherwise defend as provided by these rules, and that fact is shown by affidavit or otherwise, the clerk shall enter a default. The party seeking default must serve the application on all parties, including the party against whom the default is sought."

Do not wait until when it is too late to respond; SoloSuit makes answering a summons for debt collection in Alaska faster and easier.

Use these Alaska Answer to a Summons forms to draft your response

To respond to a summons for debt collection in Alaska, you must submit a written Answer to the court. Your Answer document should acknowledge the claims against you and include any relative defenses to your case. This Answer form is specifically designed to help you respond to a debt lawsuit and stand up for your rights. To fill out the form, respond to a series of questions about your case and the SoloSuit software with generate a personalized Answer for you.

The Alaska Court System also offers forms to help you respond to a summons. These forms may be more challenging to fill out because you'll have to fill in the blanks in order to build your case.

Regardless of which for you choose, just be sure to respond. Keep reading for more details on how to draft and file your Answer.

Use these three steps to respond to a debt collection case in Alaska

Here are the steps you need to take to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Alaska (you can also watch the video below to learn more).

1. Create an Answer document

The first step in responding to a debt collection lawsuit in this northwestern state is to create an answer document with the necessary information on the complaint and summons. This information may include:

  • Personal details, such as name and address.
  • Information on the plaintiff, which includes the name of the company, and the attorney representing them.
  • Information on the relevant court; the name, address, case number, and district.

Answer each issue raised in the complaint

After creating your answer document by yourself or via SoloSuit, the next step is to respond to each paragraph of the complaint by admitting to the allegations, denying the allegations, or telling the court that there isn't enough information to either admit or deny the particular allegation.

Use SoloSuit to make an affirmative defense fast.

2. Assert affirmative defenses

To have a judgment granted in your favor based on an affirmative defense, you need to prove the defense in court. If you can prove your defense during the trial, you may convince the court that you do not owe the plaintiff any debt.

Below are some of the affirmative defenses that may apply to your case in Alaska:

  • Not your debt: Sometimes, a creditor can sue you for a debt that you do not owe because of an error in their financial records or because of a case of stolen identity. If you believe that the debt in question is not yours and can prove it in court, do not hesitate to state that in your defense.
  • Incorrect amount: If you made a partial payment or full payment towards settling a debt that a collector is suing for, you could add a wrong debt claim to your affirmative defenses. You may win the case if you can prove to the court that the amount listed by the plaintiff is not the amount you owe.
  • Unknown plaintiff: In Alaska and other states, you have a right to make a debt collector prove ownership of a debt. Given that most collecting agencies buy debts from creditors, you can argue that you entered into an agreement with a different company or person from the one suing unless they prove they own the debt.
  • Statute of limitations: It is vital to keep in mind Alaska's Statute of limitations on different debts when adding your affirmative defenses. If the Statute of limitations on the debt has already expired, the plaintiff can no longer sue you for the debt.
  • Already litigated: If you or another person had a court case that addressed the debt in question, the plaintiff can't summon or sue you for the same debt. When raising the issue of previous litigation as your defense, you should include the case number and filing date. If the last case court was not in Alaska, remember to include the state where the plaintiff filed the case.
  • Bankruptcy: In most states, including Alaska, a debt collector can't sue you over a debt that was already part of a bankruptcy case. Suppose you are raising bankruptcy as your defense; you should include the court case number and date of filing.
  • Improper collateral: If your debt summons is about a loan that had collateral, you could argue that the creditor did not give you notice of sale or did not sell the collateral in a commercially viable manner.
  • In Alaska, a creditor must provide written notice of the sale of your collateral in a reasonable time before selling the collateral, usually ten days. This notice of sale must contain the following information.

    • Your name and that of the creditor
    • A description of the collateral
    • A description of the time and date of sale
    • A warning that if the collector sells the collateral for less than you owe, you still owe them a debt
    • A phone number to contact the creditor in case you want the collateral back
    • An offer to provide full accounting details of the debt
Use SoloSuit to respond in 15 minutes and win your case.

3. File the Answer in court and serve the plaintiff

In Alaska, you can serve the plaintiff your answer by hand delivery or mail. To do this, you will make two copies of your answer form.

Give one copy to the plaintiff's attorney and keep the other copy for future reference. If the plaintiff does not have an attorney, you can serve them directly. Ensure that you write down when and how you served the plaintiff in the bottom section of your original answer form, also known as the ‘Certificate of Service section.'

File your original answer and Counterclaim in court within the stipulated 20 days of being served the summons. Remember that courts in Alaska close at noon on Fridays. Therefore, if your answer form is due on a weekend or holiday, the due date will be pushed to the next day the court is open.

You should file your answer form in the court location where the plaintiff filed the complaint. The plaintiff usually indicates this location on the summons. Luckily, Alaska courts do not charge an Answer filing fee. Also, to avoid too much paperwork and uncertainty when responding to a debt collections summons, you can simply submit your answer via SoloSuit.

Settle debt in Alaska

If you want to truly be free of your debt, your best option is to negotiate with your creditor for a lower settlement. Follow these steps to settle your debt in Alaska and get the financial reset you’re seeking.

File an Answer to a debt collection lawsuit

Before you try to settle your debt, be sure to respond to a debt collection lawsuit. Filing an Answer will communicate your willingness to fight the lawsuit and protect you from a default judgment.

SoloSuit can guide you through this process. Use the online tool to answer some basic questions, then file the Answer with the local court. SoloSuit can even file the Answer on your behalf or have a lawyer review your Answer.

Take action today to file an Answer with the local court.

Open the negotiation process

You can kick off the negotiation process by making an initial offer. As a rule of thumb, agree to pay 60% of the total debt amount. Your debt collector may reject this offer, but they will likely respond with a counteroffer.

SoloSettle is a helpful tool that you can use to negotiate with creditors without having to deal with them directly. Just use the online platform to submit an initial offer, and SoloSettle can even handle payment once you’re ready.

Get the settlement agreement in writing

Never pay a dime until you have the debt settlement agreement in writing. Otherwise, dishonest debt collectors may attempt to seek a default judgment against you even after making a verbal agreement to settle your debt.

To learn more about how to negotiate debt settlement, we asked a licensed attorney for tips and tricks. Check out the video below for the full interview with attorney John Skiba to prepare for the debt settlement negotiation process:

Alaska debt collection laws regulate all collection practices there

Don’t become a victim of aggressive or misleading debt collectors. Alaska has debt collection laws that extend the protections already offered by the federal government. Here are some of the most relevant debt collection laws in Alaska.

Debt collectors are regulated by federal and state laws

Residents of Alaska are protected at the federal level by the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and at the state level by the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act. Debt collectors are prohibited from such practices as:

  • Threatening to garnish your wages to repay a debt
  • Impersonating an attorney or law enforcement officer
  • Implying you’ll be arrested for not paying your debt
  • Claiming that their communications are legal documents
  • Falsely claiming that legal action has been taken against you

The FDCPA specifically restricts collectors from:

  • Calling you multiple times per day
  • Contacting you prior to 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Refusing to identify who they are
  • Declining to validate your debt
  • Using threatening or intimidating language

If you believe that your rights have been violated, record the incident and then report it to either the Federal Trade Commission or the Alaska State Attorney General.

Debt collectors must validate your debt

Never take any action until the debt collector can validate that the debt is yours and is accurate. Insist that the debt collector validate your debt in writing, including the amount you owe and the name of the original creditor. This will force the collector to back off until they provide you with this information.

Once you receive this verification in writing, you will have 30 days to dispute the debt. After this deadline, the collector will assume that the debt is legitimate and resume their attempts to collect the debt.

Debt collectors can sue you to reclaim debt

While these laws protect consumers, debt collectors have the legal right to sue you to reclaim unpaid debts. If this happens, it’s vital to act fast. You’ll need to file an Answer, which communicates your willingness to fight the lawsuit in court.

In Alaska, you only have 20 days to file an Answer. Otherwise, the court may render a default judgment in favor of the debt collector. This may lead to bigger issues like wage garnishment.

Don't let debt collectors intimidate you. Respond with SoloSuit.

Stop wage garnishment in Alaska

Unfortunately, you can’t win every case. If you lose a debt collection lawsuit, the court can render a judgment against you, which can give your creditors the right to seize your assets or garnish your wages until the debt is paid. But wage garnishment laws in Alaska prevent debt collectors from seizing everything you own. Here are tips to protect yourself from wage garnishment.

There are limits to wage garnishment

Federal guidelines in 15 U.S.C. § 1673 restrict wage garnishment to the lesser of two amounts:

  • 25% of your disposable weekly earnings
  • The amount of your disposable wages that exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage

“Weekly earnings” refer to your income after mandatory withholdings (e.g., federal and state taxes) but can still include the portions of your paycheck that go to voluntary withholdings (health insurance or retirement contributions).

In addition, Alaska requires that all residents receive at least $350 per week under AK Stat § 09.38.030. This prevents wage garnishment from dropping your income below this amount.

Tips to avoid wage garnishment

Wage garnishment can only happen if you lose a debt collection lawsuit. So, to avoid wage garnishment, you simply have to avoid losing your court case. You can do so by:

  • Filing an Answer quickly to avoid a default judgment
  • Negotiating a lower settlement to pay off debt quickly
  • Creating a debt management plan to pay off your debt

Keep in mind that many cases are lost due to default judgment. That’s why it’s important to never ignore a debt collection phone call or court summons.

Alaska identifies as a protector of individual rights, and therefore, has more exemptions embodied in the "Alaska Exemptions Act", than most states. This Act details the categories of income exempted from garnishing.

The types of wages exempt from garnishment in Alaska include:

  • State and local pensions, such as those of public and state employees, teachers, and judges.
  • Some insurance benefits, such as disability payments and life insurance proceeds, if you are the insured dependent or spouse.
  • Child support collections made by child support services and alimony up to the salary exemption amount.

Subject to the exempted wages, Alaska allows a collector to garnish a maximum of 25 percent of your disposable income if they win the case against you. If you owe several debts, not all the debt collectors will be able to garnish your income.

In this context, disposable incoming refers to the total personal incoming minus personal current taxes.

Check Alaska's statute of limitations before paying a debt collector

State laws govern the deadline by which debt collectors and creditors must file a lawsuit to collect a debt. This is known as the statute of limitations.

In order for a debt collector to sue you, your debt must fall within the statute of limitations. Once this period expires, your debt doesn’t disappear, but it does mean that debt collectors won't have the legal grounds to sue you over past debt and win. Here’s what you need to know about the statute of limitations on debt in Alaska.

The Alaska statute of limitations on debt is three years, as outlined in Alaska Stat. § 09.10.053

"Unless the action is commenced within three years, a person may not bring an action upon a contract or liability, express or implied, except as provided in AS 09.10.040, or as otherwise provided by law, or, except if the provisions of this section are waived by contract."

The table below details the statute of limitations on all types of debt in Alaska:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Alaska

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 3 years
Medical 3 years
Student Loan 3 years
Auto Loan 3 years
Mortgage 3 years
Personal Loan 3 years
Judgment 10 years
Source: Alaska Stat. § 09.10.040 and § 09.10.053

So, before you respond to a debt collection summons, check the date of the last payment or action on your debt account. Don't agree to pay or send any money to debt collectors in Alaska before you know that three or more years have passed since any action happened on the account. Repaying a debt that is past the statute of limitations could effectively restart the clock on the statute of limitations - afresh.

Even though the statute of limitations does not erase the debt, it does turn it into a "time-barred debt." With such a debt, a collector may still follow up on the repayment. However, they cannot legally sue you. That doesn't mean they won't try, and it's your job to know the statute of limitations expiration and bring it up in court as a defense.

Some creditors may still call and send you letters even when the statute of limitations on debt already expired.

If a debt collector attempts to collect a payment on a time-barred debt, you can write a letter asking the agency to stop contacting you. You may also need to consult an attorney if a creditor sues you after the statute of limitations has expired.

When does the statute of limitations begin?

It’s important to remember that the statute of limitations begins from the date of your most recent payment — not the date of the original debt. For example, if you received a medical bill in 2020, and your last payment was in 2023, the statute of limitations begins in 2023, which potentially gives debt collectors until 2026 to take action against you.

Occasionally, debt collectors will pressure you to make a “good faith” payment on your debt. If you do this, you could inadvertently restart the statute of limitations, giving your creditors/debt collectors a larger window in which to sue you for your debt.

In fact, you shouldn't even acknowledge responsibility for the debt until you’re certain of two things: first, that the debt is yours, and second, that the debt falls within the statute of limitations.

Validate your debt before proceeding

How do you know when your debt falls inside or outside the statute of limitations? Insist that the debt collector validates your debt. This will force them to provide the name of the original creditor, the amount you owe, and the date of your last payment.

If the debt is indeed yours, you can make a payment — but this resets the statute of limitations, giving the collector a greater opportunity to sue you. You might consider debt relief options or settle your debt to resolve it once and for all.

Use SoloSuit to protect your wages and property.

Overcome debt in Alaska with these debt relief options

Managing debt is no easy task. Residents of Alaska have multiple Alaska debt relief options to help tackle debt without hiring a credit counselor or taking out another loan. Here are some great examples:

Consolidate your debt

If you have borrowed money from different sources, it may not be easy to keep track of all the required monthly payments. It is, therefore, easy to fall behind on some expenses. Consolidating your debt by taking out a new loan to cover all your debts will leave you with only one lender and a single monthly payment.

Debt consolidation is a great option for those facing multiple sources of debt (credit cards, medical bills, student loans, etc.). Debt consolidation will replace these debts with a single loan or transfer the amounts to a balance transfer credit card. The idea is to obtain a single loan with a lower interest rate, allowing you to repay debt faster.

However, the best loan rates and terms go to those with strong credit, which may not always be an option if you’re struggling with debt payments. And if you transfer your debt to a low-interest balance transfer card, missed payments can cause the card provider to raise interest rates or charge you additional penalties.

Refinance your loan

Refinancing is an excellent way to get a loan with better repayment terms and lower interest rates. But you can only refinance your loan if your credit score has improved from the time you incurred your debt.

Create a debt management plan

A debt management plan will help you create a budget that balances your ongoing needs with your debt obligations. The Alaska Department of Justice lists credit counseling agencies that can help you create such a plan.

Plans can take three to five years to complete, during which time you’ll need to avoid taking on any new debt. Your creditors may even cooperate with a debt management plan and be willing to work out a new payment plan or even adjust your interest rate — though they’re under no obligation to do so.

Ask for forgiveness

Asking for forgiveness may sound unusual, but some creditors may be willing to forgive some (or even all) of your debt if you can prove that you are experiencing legitimate hardship. Even partial forgiveness can make your debt more manageable, so this option may be worth a shot.

Contact a debt relief company

Many companies make big promises of liberating you from debt. A debt relief company typically works by asking you to open a dedicated account and deposit payments into this account (rather than paying your creditor).

Once your account grows to a designated threshold, the debt relief company will negotiate a lower payment and settle your debt on your behalf.

While this sounds promising, there are some drawbacks. First, it can take three to five years before your account grows large enough to settle your debt, during which time your credit score will continue to drop. Second, the debt relief agency will likely charge for their services, adding to your debt. Third, there’s no guarantee that your creditors will agree to a settlement.

Negotiate a lower settlement

You can also negotiate with your creditor or debt collector, which will allow you to settle your debt for less. Most debt collectors would be willing to accept a lower offer in order to avoid a protracted dispute or take legal action.

Platforms like SoloSettle will facilitate the negotiation process and can even handle the payment process once an agreement is made.

Use SoloSettle to negotiate with creditors and settle your debt once and for all.

Legal aid organizations in Alaska

It is easy for a debt situation to escalate from bad to worse. If you find yourself in an overwhelming debt crisis, bear in mind that debt relief organizations and nonprofits are ready to help you.

For instance, a nationwide firm like Money Management International, specializing in debt counseling services, can review your debt and help you get back on track.

You can also reach out to the Northern Justice Project, a privately-held law firm that takes on consumer protection matters and pro-bono work.

Being in debt shouldn't make you lose hope in life. With the right resources, it is possible to manage your debt situation. As described in the article, taking the required steps in responding to a debt summon, including asserting affirmative defenses and filing your answer on time, are some of the few actions that will help you fix this problem.

You should also bear in mind that SoloSuit offers an easy, legal and effective way to respond to a summons for debt collection in Alaska.

Check the status of your court case in Alaska

When facing a debt collection lawsuit, it’s important to stay on top of your case. Here’s how to check the status of your court case in Alaska.

Find your case number

Your case number will make it easier to find information on your lawsuit. Your case number should be printed on any correspondence you receive pertaining to your lawsuit and can be a combination of letters, numbers, and characters.

If you can’t find your case number, use the Alaska CourtView online portal and select the “search cases” option. Fill out all the information you know, and you should be able to locate your court records and case number.

Check your status in person

First, you’ll need to use the court directory to find the location of the court that’s handling your case. You’ll then visit the courthouse and submit a written request for your case records from the court clerk. You may be able to view your records on a public terminal, though some courthouses may charge a fee for making and certifying copies of your records.

Check your status online

You can also use the Alaska CourtView online portal to search for your case. You can search by case number or by entering details about the case (your name, other party’s name, or the date the case was filed). If you can’t find your case through this method, it may be in the Appellate Courts. You can search these records using the same method.

File an Answer in your local court in Alaska

Ready to draft and file an Answer to your debt collection lawsuit in Alaska? Find your local court below to get started:

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

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