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How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Georgia (2023 Guide)

George Simons | March 21, 2023

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

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.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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

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.

Use the SoloSuit Answer form to respond to your debt lawsuit fast.

Answer filing fees for 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.

Statute of limitations on debt in Georgia

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 you can’t be taken to court for it. That being said, this time limit is different in every state, and the type of debt involved also changes things.

Accord 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 in Years
Credit Card 4
Medical 4
Auto Loan 4
Oral contracts 4
Written contracts 6
State Tax 7

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, then you will automatically win the case. This decision is not dependent on whether or not you owe the debt.

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

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 fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

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"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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