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How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Georgia (2024 Guide)

George Simons | May 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: You have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Georgia before you lose by default. To respond, you should draft and file a written Answer where you respond to each claim against you and assert your affirmative defense. SoloSuit helps you draft and file your Answer in minute, increasing your chances of winning significantly.

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 claims against you are true and enter a default judgment against you.

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.

In this article, we’ll explain how to respond to how to answer a summons without an attorney in Georgia. We’ll cover deadlines, fees, forms, and more.

Respond to a Summons in Georgia.

Sued for debt in Georgia? SoloSuit can help you file an Answer into your case before the 30-day deadline.

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Table of Contents

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.

File a response to a debt collection lawsuit in 15 minutes with SoloSuit.

Georgia Answer to Summons forms

Filing an Answer to a Summons and Complaint is important because it gives you the chance to formally respond and fight the claims made 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.

Drafting an Answer to your Georgia lawsuit can be complicated, but SoloSuit’s Answer form helps you simplify the process. Respond to a few questions about your lawsuit, and the SoloSuit software will generate a customized response for you to file into the case.

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.

Georgia's judicial branch doesn't have a statewide Answer form, but some Georgia courts provide forms to help consumers respond to a summons for debt. Here’s an example of a Superior Court Answer form for Georgia courts. Note that if you use this form, you’ll have to fill it out on your own.

Here is SoloSuit’s sample Answer to a Complaint in Georgia.

Some Courts charge Answer filing fees in Georgia

Some Georgia courts charge a filing fee for you to enter an Answer into the case. This fee is unique to every county and court, but usually courts that require electronic filing are the ones that charge the fees. In Georgia, the fee ranges from $14-$30.

SoloSuit calculates the Answer filing fee for you, so you don’t have to.

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. You may have to submit a fee waiver. 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. These documents will typically be delivered to 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 Answer a debt lawsuit in Georgia. This includes mailing a copy of your Answer document to both the court and the plaintiff (person or company suing you). Follow these three steps to Answer your debt collection case:

  1. Answer each issue of the Complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses.
  3. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

That being said, 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.

Below, we will break down the three steps to respond to a debt lawsuit in Georgia a little further. Don’t like reading? Check out this video instead:

1. Answer each issue of the complaint

The Complaint document typically includes numbered paragraphs stating the claims against you. You can either deny, accept, or state that you are not sure about some of the complaints stated in the paragraphs. It is extremely important to respond to each allegation listed in the Complaint.

The first section of your Answer document should be a list of responses to each claim from the Complaint. You can answer each claim with one of the following responses:

  • Admit the claim. This is like saying, “this is true.”
  • Deny the claim. This is like saying, “prove it.”
  • Deny the claim due to lack of knowledge. This is like saying, “I don’t know.”

Respond to your debt lawsuit in just 15 minutes online.

2. Assert your 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.

Make the right affirmative defense the right way with SoloSuit.

3. 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.

SoloSuit can file your Answer for you in Georgia.

The statute of limitations on debt in Georgia may be your best defense

The statute of limitations is the time limit that a creditor or debt collector can sue someone for a debt. You read that right—if the statute of limitations on your debt has expired, then creditors and debt collectors don’t have legal grounds to sue you for it. That being said, this time limit is different in every state, and the type of debt involved also changes things.

In Georgia, the statute of limitations is four years for credit card debt and six years for most other types of debt. Let’s take a look at the actual Georgia laws that outline the statute of limitations on debt there. According to Georgia Code, §9-3-25 states:

“All actions upon open account, or for the breach of any contract not under the hand of the party sought to be charged, or upon any implied promise or undertaking shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.”

And §9-3-24 states:

“All actions upon simple contracts in writing shall be brought within six years after the same become due and payable.”

In other words, the statute of limitations on debt in Georgia is four years for oral contracts and open accounts and six years for written contracts. Therefore, the Georgia statute of limitations on credit card debt is four years.

This means that a creditor or debt collector only has four years to sue for a credit card debt in Georgia, starting from the date of the last activity on the debt account or the first day that you stopped making payments.

The table below further outlines the Georgia statute of limitations on different types of debt:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Georgia

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 4 years
Medical 6 years
Student Loan 6 years
Auto Loan 6 years
Mortgage 6 years
Personal Loan 6 years
Judgment 7 years
Ga. Code § 9-3-25, § 9-3-24, and § 9-12-60

Your debt doesn’t disappear after the statute expires, but it shields you from a judgment and the threat of judgment liens or wage garnishment.

The statute of limitations is by far the best affirmative defense to use in your Answer, as there is no way around it. If you can prove the four-year period has expired for legal action to be taken on your credit card debt, then you will automatically win the case. This decision is not dependent on whether or not you owe the debt.

It’s important to remember that the statute of limitations begins from the date of your last payment and not from the date of your original debt. If a debt collector pressures you to make a “good faith” payment on your debt, you could inadvertently be restarting the statute of limitations all over again, giving your debt collector the full window to sue you over unpaid debt.

Use the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense and win your debt lawsuit.

Other Georgia debt collection laws protect you

Even if your debt is legitimate, debt collection agencies don’t have free reign over you. Federal and Georgia debt collection laws guard against harassment and deceptive practices. Here are the specific ways that you can find protection against aggressive debt collectors.

Georgia protects you from debt collection agencies

Georgia has enacted the Fair Business Practices Act (FBPA), more technically known as O.C.G.A. § 10-1-391. Under this act, debt collection agencies may not engage in dishonest or misleading tactics, such as:

  • Obtaining your information from a consumer reporting agency under false pretenses.
  • Failing to identify themselves as a debt collector in written/spoken communication.
  • Impersonating a law enforcement officer or attorney.

You can report violations to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division.

Georgia residents are protected at the federal level

Georgia residents are also protected by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which restricts debt collectors from behaviors that include:

  • Calling you before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.
  • Calling you multiple times each day.
  • Failing to identify themselves as a debt collector.
  • Contacting your friends, family, or coworkers regarding your debt.
  • Contacting you after receiving a cease and desist letter.
  • Contacting you when they know you have legal counsel.
  • Threatening to arrest you for not paying your debt.
  • Declining to validate your debt.

However, the FDCPA only applies to third-party debt collection agencies, not your original creditor. For instance, banks and credit card companies can call you more than once a day for an outstanding debt without violating your consumer rights.

If a debt collector has violated your rights, you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can reach the FTC through the FTC website or by calling 877-382-4357, and the CFPB through the CFPB website or by calling 855-411-2372.

Debt collectors must validate your debt

How can you know that the debt is even yours? Never agree to anything until the debt collector can provide you with proof that connects you to the debt. A Debt Validation Letter will force debt collectors to provide information such as:

  • The date/amount of the original debt.
  • The name of the original creditor.
  • Any payment history, including the date of the last payment.

Your debt collector will have to back off until they can provide this information. Once you receive this information, you’ll have 30 days to dispute your debt. Otherwise, the debt collector will assume that the debt is legitimately yours and will take steps to recover it.

Use a Debt Validation Letter to insist your debt collector prove the debt is yours.

Look for debt relief in Georgia

Georgia residents can use several options to find debt relief. You can pursue strategies to manage debt or take advantage of financial assistance programs to help you better manage your household finances.

Negotiate a settlement with your creditors

Chances are that your creditors are willing to accept a lower offer if it means getting their money sooner rather than later. Settling your debt means you’ll escape your debt faster and for less than you currently owe.

Debt relief companies typically promise that you’ll be out of debt in five years. To accomplish this, the company will ask you to make monthly payments to a dedicated account. Once the account reaches a certain amount, the company will negotiate a settlement on your behalf.

The downside is that your credit will take a hit during this waiting period, and the debt relief agency may assess its own fees in the process.

Alternatively, you can negotiate your own settlement by using SoloSettle. This online tool lets you negotiate with creditors and find a solution that works for both of you. And because it’s online, you’ll never have to interact directly with the debt collection agency.

Settle with SoloSettle

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Watch the video before for debt settlement negotiation tips from an attorney:

Consolidate your debt

Debt consolidation can be a helpful option if you’re facing multiple sources of debt (credit cards, student loans, car payments, etc.). A debt consolidation loan will replace these loans with a single, low-interest loan. Some credit card companies even offer a balance transfer card with promotional interest rates as low as 0% for one full year.

However, the most favorable loan terms go to those with favorable credit, which may not be an option if you’ve struggled with your payment history. And if you miss a payment on your balance transfer card, you could be hit with penalties or an interest rate hike.

Apply for financial assistance

Residents of Georgia can take advantage of one of several programs designed to provide financial assistance. These programs include:

While these programs do not address debt directly, they provide financial assistance that can help you navigate your household finances.

File for bankruptcy

As a last resort, you may consider filing for bankruptcy. On the one hand, you’ll get the chance to start over. But in chapter 7 bankruptcy, your assets can be seized and liquidated to pay your debt. Additionally, a bankruptcy filing will stain your credit report for up to 10 years. Bankruptcy should, therefore, be used as an absolute last resort.

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.

Check your court case status in Georgia

If you’ve been sued over debt, you have the right to review the status of your case and obtain relevant court documents. Here are the steps you can take to check the status of your court case in Georgia.

Find your court case number

You’ll find it easier to access court records if you know your specific case number. If you’re not sure of your case number, simply search by party name on Georgia’s PeachCourt portal. You’ll need to register for a free account, after which you’ll be able to search the court records.

Alternatively, you can visit the courthouse in person. You’ll give your full name, the collection agency’s name, and any other information to the county clerk. They can look up your case and provide you with a case number.

Check your status at the courthouse

Use the Georgia Courts Directory to find the courthouse that’s handling your case. You can visit in person and provide information to the county clerk that includes:

  • Your full legal name.
  • The type of case (e.g., small claims).
  • Your creditor’s name.
  • Your attorney’s name.
  • The date the case was filed.

Depending on your court, you may need to complete a written request or even pay a small fee to cover the cost of printing.

Check your status online

In Georgia, court case details can be accessed using the online PeachCourt portal. You’ll need to sign up for an account, but doing so is free. Users can search based on the court case number or the party name.

However, the PeachCourt portal only provides records for select Georgia counties. For example, Fulton County has its own records portal, which you can access through the website.

And if you live in one of the following counties, you won’t find your records online:

  • Chatham.
  • Cherokee.
  • Clayton.
  • Decatur.
  • DeKalb.
  • Douglas.
  • Floyd.
  • Glynn.
  • Gwinnett.
  • Lowndes.
  • Rockdale.

If you live in one of these counties — or you simply can’t find your case online — you can send an email to, or call 844-GA-EFILE.

It’s also possible that your court case is in the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals. If so, you can search via the Georgia Supreme Court case portal or the Georgia Court of Appeals case portal.

Stop wage garnishment in Georgia

Wage garnishment is a common way for creditors and debt collectors to recover unpaid debts. But creditors can’t garnish your wages without legal permission.

If you’ve been sued over unpaid debt, wage garnishment may be part of the judgment against you. This means that your creditor has the legal right to collect a portion of your paycheck until your debt is paid.

Thankfully, Georgia protects its residents from excessive or unjust wage garnishment. Here are some of Georgia’s wage garnishment laws and how you can protect yourself and your finances.

Only your disposable earnings can be garnished

Wage garnishment is limited to your “disposable” earnings, meaning the money left in your paycheck after subtracting required withholdings such as federal and state taxes. However, the rest of your wages can still be taxed, including the money you set aside for voluntary withholdings (e.g., health insurance or retirement contributions).

In other words, wage garnishment may be calculated on a higher figure than your “take-home” pay since it doesn’t subtract these other withholdings.

Georgia sets limits on how much your wages can be garnished

Georgia’s wage garnishment limits roughly mirror federal guidelines. According to Ga. Code § 18-4-5(a), creditors can only garnish your earnings up to the lesser of one of the following:

  • 25% of your weekly disposable earnings.
  • The amount by which your weekly disposable earnings exceed $217.50.

However, it may be possible to work out an arrangement between you and your creditor to pay a lower amount. Just be aware that your creditor may not agree to such an arrangement, and they are under no legal obligation to cooperate.

Wage garnishment limits vary by type of debt

While the above limits apply to most types of unsecured debt, there are different limits for other types of debt. For example:

  • If you owe back child support, your wages can be garnished up to 50%.
  • Federal student loan debt can be garnished only to 15%.
  • Taxes can be garnished at the discretion of the IRS or state tax authorities.

If you owe any of the above debts, you may see your wages garnished at a different rate until your debt is repaid.

Certain forms of income are safe from garnishment

Wage garnishment is limited to the disposable earnings from your weekly paycheck. The following types of income may not be garnished:

  • Social Security benefits.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Unemployment benefits.
  • Veterans' benefits.
  • Workers' compensation.

You can also file an exemption to protect your assets from garnishment, but this will only be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Employers can’t terminate your employment for wage garnishment

Ga. Code § 18-4-5(c) mirrors federal law in prohibiting employers from terminating you based on a single wage garnishment. However, this law does not apply to multiple garnishments, so if you face multiple lawsuits and judgments, your employer can legally fire you.

Can I stop wage garnishment in Georgia?

Unfortunately, the only real way to stop wage garnishment is by filing bankruptcy, and even then, certain types of debts (such as student loans) are not eliminated by doing so. Additionally, the impact on your credit makes this an unfavorable solution.

Your best bet is to avoid a default judgment. File an Answer right away to prevent the court from siding in favor of your creditor.

Use SoloSuit to draft and file an Answer to your lawsuit.

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.
  • You can respond to a summons without an attorney in Georgia. To do so, you must file a written Answer into the case. In your Answer, respond to each claim against you and assert your affirmative defenses. Then, let SoloSuit file the Answer for you in Georgia.

File an Answer in your local court in Georgia

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