How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Indiana (2020 Guide)

George Simons

March 17, 2022

Summary: Live in Indiana and need help responding to a debt collection lawsuit? SoloSuit makes the process easy. Try it out now or read this guide to learn more about the process.

“I just love talking to debt collectors, it's the best part of my day!” — said no one ever.

Being in debt and unable to get out of it can be a wrenching experience, especially when things get behind and you begin to get calls and letters from collection people.

If things don't get better, and you've tried working with these people to no avail, they may decide to proceed with a lawsuit.

You may know that this is coming, but not know what to do about it. We understand. We talk to people just like you every day. We've got you covered, and will try to make things just a little easier by explaining what to do next.

When you received a summons for a debt in Indiana, the court is notifying you about the lawsuit. If you don't respond to the summons, the creditor's (plaintiff) attorney can file for a Motion for Default Judgment. By not responding, you've effectively handed them a victory without a fight, and probably more money than you already owe.

Don't let them win—answer and fight back.

You have 20 days to respond to a Summons for debt collection in Indiana

In Indiana, you only have 20 days to file an Answer with the court after you're served the Summons and Complaint.

When you receive a Summons, you may not know what to do or who to call. You may not be able to afford an attorney to represent you in court. But if you do nothing, it will snowball. Filing a written Answer gives you a fighting chance, and your case may even be dismissed.

Without a response from you, the court may enter a default judgment against you, which gives the creditor the ability to seize your bank account, garnish your wages, and attach a lien on your home to recoup the money you owe. You'll owe whatever the plaintiff says you owe (plust interest), and at that point, there's little you can do about it. This is why it's so important to respond within 20 days to give yourself a fighting chance.

Use this pro se Answer template to respond to a debt Summons in Indiana

Indiana does not have a statewide Answer form, but here's an example form for cases in the United State District Court for the Southern District of Indiana: Answer template example. You can use it to respond to the Summons and Complaint, but you should change the court information at the top to fit the court your case is in.

You can also draft an Answer on Solosuit's website in minutes, for free! SoloSuit's Answer form is legitimate and professional, and it can even include an attorney's review of your documents before filing. This is a tried and true method, as SoloSuit has successfully filed Answers for pro se defendant in dozens of cases in Indiana. Keep reading to find out more about what we can do to help.

Steps to respond to a debt collection case in Indiana

It's important to pay attention to the time limit for response, which we mentioned earlier is 20 days. If you don't respond within the 20-day period, you will automatically lose your case by default judgment. This opens the door to further financial problems. But there's no reason you have to let this happen.

Fortunately, answering the Summons is easy, and you have just three steps to submit a response:

  1. Answer each issue of the complaint
  2. Assert affirmative defenses
  3. File one copy of the Answer document with the court and serve the plaintiff with another copy.

Sit back while we explain the process in more detail.

1. Create an Answer Document.

You'll create this document to file with the court, which essentially answers the allegations in the plaintiff's court petition you received. You'll need to answer every paragraph in the petition, down to the last detail.

Gather all of the information that's in the Complaint and Summons and add it to your Answer, including:

  • Your name, address, and other pertinent personal information
  • Information on the plaintiff. That is, the company who is suing you and their attorney representing them.
  • The name of the court that the case is in in the State of Indiana, the address of the court, etc.
  • Identifying information: the case number, index number, civil number, or whatever the court uses to identifies your case
  • The amount of the lawsuit
  • Other relevant case information

The court refers to this as “styling,” and it must be correctly added to your Answer document. After you've created your Answer document with this information, use steps two and three to complete the rest of your Answer before you file.

2. Answer each issue posed in the Complaint.

It may seem a little daunting at first, but follow the instructions we've given and it will make sense to you.

Read the entire complaint, and decide how you want to respond to each of the numbered paragraphs. You should answer each accusation with one of these three responses:

  • Admit (like saying This is true)
  • Deny (like saying Prove it)
  • Deny due to lack of knowledge (like saying I don't know)

Many attorneys recommend denying all of the accusations (known as a “general denial”). This makes it harder for the plaintiff, because they have to prove the allegations are true, which requires more work, time, and resources on their part. Answer each allegation honestly, and it's fine to say that you don't know the answer. If you disagree, include a sentence of why you disagree.

Ultimately, it's up to you how you respond, and you can also amend your answer later if you need to.

3. Assert affirmative defenses.

This is the part where you get to share your side of the story, or in other words, defend yourself. Avoid lengthy answers and sstories. You must list all your affirmative defenses now, because once you've filed your Answer, you can't bring them up in the future if the case progresses.

Here are some common affirmative defenses you can consider:

  • The statute of limitations has expired, and the plaintiff no longer has the right to sue (this is a big one, and many collectors know better but file suit anyway).
  • The debt/account does not belong to you. As a victim of identity theft, another individual used your name and information to incur this debt.
  • You believe that the debt amount is incorrect--you owe the plaintiff, but not the amount they are suing for.
  • The account was closed or cancelled, and you no longer owe the plaintiff anything.
  • The debt was settled for a different amount than the one in the complaint.
  • The debt was fully or partially paid and settled (“satisfied.”)
  • The debt was excused.
  • The plaintiff is acting in “bad faith” with the lawsuit
  • You were a co-signer on this debt with another individual, but were never informed of your rights as the co-signer.
  • The debt collector engaged in harassment over this debt.

Note that your inability to pay the debt will not qualify as an affirmative defense, unless you've previously filed for bankruptcy. If you use this defense, you need to produce documentation showing that the debt was, in fact, legally discharged.

4. File the answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

Finally, it's time for you to swing the bat and hit the ball back into their court.

File the original copy of your Answer with the court and send a copy of it to the plaintiff's attorney. Fortunately, Indiana also has e-filing available, so you don't have to use snail mail to send your Answer. If you choose to mail it in, make sure to send it via certified mail with a return receipt requested. You'll be able to trace the letter if it's lost, and you will get a postcard back if and when the recipient does receive it and sign for it.

SoloSuit can help you file an Answer in all 50 states.

For more information on these three tips, check out this video SoloSuit's CEO explaining how to file an Answer:

What if I'm served an alias Summons in Indiana?

Alias Summons is just a fancy way of saying the second summons served after the first summons failed delivery. In other words, if the plaintiff tried to serve you with the original Summons and you weren't reached, they will send another alias Summons to continue with the lawsuit.

The rules for responding to an alias Summons are the same as any other Summons: you should respond with a written Answer within 20 days to avoid default judgment. Review the tips above for more information on responding to an alias Summons in Indiana.

What happens if I don't receive a Summons?

If you're never served a Summons, the lawsuit may continue forward without your knowledge. If this is the case, a default judgment may be entered in the case.

If you find out that a judgment is against you without ever receiving a Summons, you can file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment and explain to the court that you were unaware of the suit. If the court accepts your Motion (which they almost always do), you will be able to respond with your written Answer and use "improper service" as one of your affirmative defenses.

Check out this handy flowchart that outlines the possible routes a debt lawsuit can take:

Debt Collection Lawsuit Flowchart

Avoid default judgment in Indiana by responding to the alias Summons

Like we mentioned before, you have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Indiana. If you don't, the plaintiff (person suing) can file a default judgment against you. With a default judgment, they can take money directly from your bank account, paycheck, and put liens on your property.

For example, John was sued by Discover Card for a credit card debt in Indiana. John was served the court Summons and Complaint on March 5, 2022, but he failed to respond before March 26, 2022. As a result, Discover Card filed a default judgment against him, and the court granted it. Months later, John noticed that his paycheck had been significantly reduced: Discover Card had garnished his wages and requested that his employer take out money each month to pay off the debt.

Don't be John in this situation. File your Answer as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance at winning the case.

What is Solosuit?

We make it simple to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Indiana. Our web app allows you to input the necessary information, print out the pages, and submit the hard copies to the court and the plaintiff--yourself, for free.

Want us to do that for you? We also offer a paid service in which we'll have a professional debt defense attorney review the answer for you, file it with the court, and even serve the plaintiff for just $115.

No law firm, no billable hours, just a flat fee that includes review, filing and service. We'll take care of the answer, so you can relax just a little during a difficult time.

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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Indiana statute of limitations on debt collection

The statute of limitations is a legal time limit that someone has to file a lawsuit against you. Indiana has more than one statute of limitations on debt, and it depends on the type of debt.


Massachusetts Statute of Limitations
on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

6

Written

6

Promissory

10

Open

6

Credit Card

6

Auto Loans

4

Mortgage

6

State Tax

10

Judgements

20


Source: Findlaw



The date starts on the last activity on an account, such as the last time you purchased something using a credit card.

If a debt is past the Indiana statute of limitations for that type, the company can no longer file a lawsuit against you for it. If they do (and many try it), one of your defenses is that the debt is too old.

For instance, 8 years after defaulting on a credit card debt, you're sued by a collections agency. It may still be on your credit report, but because it's two years past the statute of limitations, they can no longer sue for it. That's one of the many reasons you must file an answer. If you don't, they'll win, and you'll owe not only the debt but attorney fees and other costs, too.

Note that this doesn't mean you don't still owe the debt, and it will not fall off your credit report. It just means they can no longer sue you for it.

If you need to find a lawyer but don't have the funds for a retainer, you can seek legal help at some of these organizations:

Indiana Legal Services, Inc.
800-869-0212
With the main office in Indianapolis and eight branch offices throughout the state, this nonprofit law firm provides legal assistance for civil (non-criminal) matters to eligible low-income families in the state of Indiana.

Indiana Legal Help
Supported by the Indiana Bar Association and the Indiana Supreme Court through the Coalition for Court Access, Indiana Legal Help offers assistance with civil matters to citizens “of limited means.” Contact them at info@indianalegalhelp.org, or use their directory page to find legal help.

Indianapolis Bar Association
135 N. Pennsylvania St., Suite 1500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 269-2000
Fax: (317) 269-1915

Indianapolis Legal Aid Society
615 N Alabama St #122
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 635-9538
Fax: (317) 631-4423

Legal Services Organization of Indiana Inc.
151 North Delaware Street, Suite 1800
Indianapolis IN, 46204-2517
Hotline: (317)632-5764 (intake)
Phone: (800) 869-0212
Phone: (317)631-9436 (TDD)

Legal Services Program of Northern Indiana Inc.
639 Columbia St.
Lafayette IN, 47902-1455
Phone: (800) 382-7581

Legal Aid Corporation of Tippecanoe County, Inc.
212 N. 5th St.
Lafayette, IN 47901-1404
(765) 742-1068

Christian Ministries of Delaware County
401 E. Main St.
Muncie, IN 47305
(765) 288-0601

Indiana Legal Services - Consumer Law Center
Plaza Square South Suite 5
3303 Plaza Drive
New Albany, IN 47150
(812) 945-4123

Notre Dame Law Clinic
725 Howard Street
South Bend, IN 46617
(574) 631-6704

Valparaiso School of Law Clinic
651 South College Heritage Hall
Valparaiso University
Valparaiso, IN 46383
(219) 465-7903

Key Takeaways For Responding To Your Summons

So, in short, here's the review on how to answer a summons for debt collection in Indiana.

  • Respond by the deadline: 20 days
  • Use SoloSuit or the State of Indiana's Answer form

Follow these steps to respond and defend yourself against the lawsuit:

  1. Answer each issue in the complaint, paragraph by paragraph.
  2. Assert any and all of your affirmative defenses, including an expired statute of limitations.
  3. File and serve the Answer with the court.

If you'd like some help, Solosuit's easy online services can take care of everything in just 20 minutes.

We hope this gives you a better idea of how to move forward, as well as a little peace of mind when it comes to dealing with a debt collection lawsuit in Indiana. Good Luck!

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection Guides for Other States

Not in Indiana? Take a look at our guides for other states.

Here's a list of guides for other states.

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