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

Hannah Locklear | December 30, 2023

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.

Fact-checked by George Simons, JD/MBA

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.

Summary: You have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Indiana. To respond, you should address each claim listed against you in the Complaint, assert your affirmative defenses, and send a copy of your Answer document to the opposing attorney after filing it with the court. You can also consider settling the debt before going to court. SoloSuit can help you with each of these steps and more.

Let's be real here, nobody enjoys talking to debt collectors. It's like getting a call from your dentist to remind you of your root canal appointment. Fun times, right?

But in all seriousness, being in debt can be overwhelming, especially when the collection calls and letters start pouring in. And if things don't improve, you might find yourself facing a lawsuit. Yikes.

But fear not, we've got your back. We know how tough it can be, and we're here to help. So let's dive into what you need to know if you receive a Summons for a debt in Indiana.

First things first, the court is basically telling you that a lawsuit has been filed against you. And if you ignore it, you're basically handing the creditor an easy win. And let's face it, you don't want to owe them even more money than you already do.

So what should you do? Answer the Summons, and fight back. You have rights, and Indiana has laws in place to protect you. Don't let debt collectors win without a fight. Trust us, it's much more satisfying to come out on top

In this article, we’ll cover all the requirements you should know about in order to respond to your debt lawsuit Indiana. This includes state-specific deadlines, forms, and laws. Without further ado, let’s get right to it.

Table of Contents

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Respond to the Indiana debt lawsuit before the 20-day deadline

In Indiana, you only have 20 days to file an Answer with the court after you're served the Summons and Complaint. Indiana Civil Procedure Rule 6(C) states:

“A responsive pleading required under these rules, shall be served within twenty [20] days after service of the prior pleading.”

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 (plus 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

The SoloSuit Answer form is probably the easiest way to create your response. 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 defendants in dozens of cases in Indiana. Keep reading to find out more about what we can do to help.

Indiana does not have a statewide Answer form for self represented litigants in civil cases, but here's an example form for an appearance by an attorney in a civil case, to give you an idea of what an attorney would fill out if they represented you.

Follow these 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. Address each claim listed in the Complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses.
  3. File the Answer document with the court, and send a copy to the plaintiff.

Sit back while we explain the process in more detail. Don’t like reading? Check out this video to learn more instead:

1. Address each claim listed 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.

2. Assert your 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 stories. 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 canceled, 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.

3. File the Answer document with the court and send a copy to 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.

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.

Let’s take a look at an example.

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.

Check the 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. The table below illustrates the statute of limitations on different types of debt in Indiana, as outlined in Ind. Code §34 Article 11.

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Indiana

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 6 years
Medical 6 years
Auto Loan 6 years
Student Loan 6 years
Personal Loan 6 years
Promissory Note 10 years
Mortgage 10 years
Judgment 20 years
Source: Ind. Code § 34-11-2-9, 11, 12

In other words, the statute of limitations on credit card debt, and most other types of debt, is six years in Indiana.

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

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.

Settle your debt in Indiana with SoloSettle

Maybe you know that you owe the debt. If this is the case, you might be wondering if debt settlement is a good option for you.

If you’ve been sued for debt, you can reach out to your creditors or debt collectors at any stage of the lawsuit to discuss debt settlement. Debt settlement is the process by which a consumer, like you, settles an outstanding debt for an amount that is less than the full amount owed.

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, makes the debt settlement process simple.

As a tech-based approach to debt settlement, SoloSettle’s software can help you send and receive settlement offers until an agreement is reached. Then, it helps manage your documentation of the settlement and transfers your payment to the creditor or debt collector, keeping your financial information private and secure.

To learn more about how SoloSettle can help you settle your debt for good, watch this video:

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.

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

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

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.
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, 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 before 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.

Consider reaching out to settle the debt before going to court. If you'd like some help, Solosuit's easy online services can take care of everything in a matter of 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 in all 50 states

Here's a list of guides on how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in each state:

The Ultimate 50 State Guide

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Like all debt collection laws, the statute of limitations on debt varies by state. So, we wrote a guide on each state’s statutes. Check it out below.

Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection by State (Best Guide)

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How to stop wage garnishment in your state

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How to settle a debt in your state

Debt settlement is one of the most effective ways to resolve a debt and save money. We’ve created a guide on how to settle your debt in all 50 states. Find out how to settle in your state with a simple click and explore other debt settlement resources below.

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Civil law legal definitions

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Not sued yet?

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