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

George Simons | July 25, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: You have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Massachusetts to avoid a default judgment. To respond, you should answer each issue from the Complaint, assert your affirmative defenses, and file the Answer document with the court. SoloSuit can help with each of these steps and more.

If you've ever felt the anxiety of a phone call, only to discover it's a debt collector, you're not alone. Dealing with these collectors can be stressful, and being sued for a debt can be even worse.

Let's face it, when you're already struggling to make ends meet, the thought of hiring a lawyer can seem unrealistic. After all, if you had the money for that, you probably would have paid off your debt in the first place, right?

But don't worry, you don't have to go through this alone. In Massachusetts, there are laws in place to protect you. In this article, we'll go over the process of responding to a debt lawsuit and answering a Summons for debt collection in Massachusetts. We’ll cover state-specific requirements, like the deadline, forms, laws, and more.

So sit back, relax, and let's get started.

Table of Contents

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Respond to your Massachusetts debt collections lawsuit before the deadline

Debt collection lawsuits can be intimidating, but don't worry! Knowing the laws and deadlines can make all the difference. Let's break it down.

In Massachusetts, a creditor can start a court action by serving you with a Summons and Complaint. This is the legal way of saying, "Hey, pay up." If you don't respond within 20 days, the creditor can get a default judgment against you. And let's be real, no one wants that.

That’s right: you have 20 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Massachusetts.

But fear not! You have the power to fight back. Just by filing an Answer within the 20-day deadline, you can throw a wrench in the creditor's plans. They want to collect their money as easily and cheaply as possible, without going to court. By making them go through the court process, you're already making it harder for them to win.

So, mark your calendars, set a reminder on your phone, and make sure you file that Answer on time. Don't let the creditors win simply because they're hoping you don't respond. Remember, the clock starts ticking as soon as you're served, even on weekends and holidays. And trust me, the creditor doesn't want to pay for an attorney any more than you do.

So, don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and fight back. Show them you're not going down without a fight!

Use Massachusetts Answer forms to respond to your case

When it comes to answering a lawsuit in Massachusetts, you've got options. If you're being sued in either District or Superior Court, you'll need to file an Answer. But even if you're in Small Claims Court Massachusetts (for matters less than $7,000), it's still a good idea to respond and tell your side of the story. The good news is, you don't have to do it alone.

SoloSuit’s Answer form is the easiest way to respond to your Massachusetts debt lawsuit. All you have to do is respond to a few questions about your case online, and SoloSuit’s software drafts an Answer for you. This form includes the proper legal wording and formatting so you can present the strongest case.

Massachusetts courts also provide an Answer to a Summons form, which you can find along with other helpful forms for debt relief on their website. You can fill it out online, in a word or pdf document, and follow the instructions to make sure you're doing it right.

So, whether you're a DIY type or prefer to leave it to the pros, don't ignore that lawsuit. Answer up and show 'em what you're made of.

Follow these three steps to respond to your debt lawsuit in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, when you're sued by a creditor (or plaintiff, if we're using fancy legal terms), they'll hit you with two documents - the Summons and Complaint. The Summons kicks off the lawsuit and the Complaint lays out the creditor's argument against you. You've got 20 days to respond, or else you lose by default (and nobody likes to lose).

You can respond in one of two ways - file an Answer or file a Motion. But let's be real, filing an Answer is usually the way to go. To do that, you'll need to tackle three steps:

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

Below, we’ll break down each of these steps in detail.

Now, I know what you're thinking - "ugh, this all sounds like a lot of work." And you're not wrong! But luckily, there are some tools out there to help you out. SoloSuit is one of them. Our software can help you draft and file an Answer in a matter of minutes. Watch this video to learn more about the three steps above and how SoloSuit can help:

1. Answer each issue of the Complaint

Responding to a Complaint isn't as hard as it might seem.

The Complaint will lay out each issue in a numbered paragraph. You can respond with "agree," "disagree," or "I don't know." Don't forget to match each response with the corresponding paragraph number.

Many lawyers suggest using a general denial because it shifts the burden of proof to the filing party. If the information is accurate, choose "agree." For example, you could admit to your identity and the fact that you owe the debt. Remember, you don't need to deny every claim to win. Next, deny any false assertions, such as the debt amount or whether you owe it at all.

Just make sure to respond within 20 days under Massachusetts law, or you'll risk losing by default. Nobody wants that - except maybe your opponent.

2. Assert affirmative defenses and counterclaims

Are you ready to turn the tables and defend yourself against the party suing you? Good news: you have the chance to do just that with affirmative defenses!

With SoloSuit, you'll be able to choose the right defense for you and list it in your Answer. Let's go over some typical defenses you can use to fight back:

  • You don't owe the debt. It's possible that the debt is not yours or that someone stole your identity.
  • You've already paid off the debt. Maybe you've already settled the account, or perhaps there was a prior agreement to pay less than the total amount.
  • You disagree with the amount of the debt. The amount they're claiming may include excessive late fees or other charges.
  • The debt has been discharged in bankruptcy. If your debt was included in a bankruptcy that received a discharge, you are no longer obligated to pay it.
  • The plaintiff hasn't proven they hold the debt. It's not uncommon for debts to be sold to third-party collection agencies that don't have the proper documentation.
  • The statute of limitations has expired. Massachusetts law sets the deadline at 6 years to sue for a debt based on a contract from six years ago.
  • These are just a few examples of affirmative defenses. Remember, you can attach any supporting documentation as evidence for your claims. It's important to note that inability to pay the debt is not a legal defense.

But wait, there's more! You can also assert counterclaims if you believe the party suing you has violated Massachusetts debt collection laws. Just check the box next to any that apply, fill out your explanation, and attach any supporting documents. Keep in mind that you'll need to prove your counterclaims at trial, so choose wisely. Don't forget to fill out a Statement of Damages District Court Massachusetts form, stating how much money you believe is appropriate for your damages if you can prove your counterclaim(s).

Remember, you only have 20 days to respond to the Summons and Complaint, so don't delay in using SoloSuit to craft your response.

3. File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff

Filing your Answer with the court and serving the plaintiff is the final step in responding to a debt collection lawsuit, but it's just as important as every other step you've taken so far. Luckily, SoloSuit can handle this step for you, so you can focus on more important things, like catching up on your favorite Netflix series.

It's crucial to file and serve your Answer on time, even if you've crafted the best response to the lawsuit ever written. Massachusetts law requires that you file and serve your Answer within twenty days of being served with the Complaint. Don't let procrastination ruin your defense strategy!

To file and serve your Answer, you'll need to complete a few easy steps:

  1. Fill out the “Certificate of Service” section of your Answer, located below your signature. This section requires you to indicate the date and method of service (mail or in-person) to prove that you filed and served your Answer before the deadline.
  2. Print at least two copies of your Answer, but make it three so you can keep one for yourself. If you don't have access to a printer, try your local public library or office supply store. SoloSuit can also print and mail it for you, so you don't have to leave the house!
  3. Mail one copy of your Answer to the court at the address listed on the Summons and Complaint.
  4. Mail a second copy to the plaintiff's attorney, also listed on the Summons and Complaint.
  5. Finally, gather all the supporting documents for your Answer and bring them to your court hearing.

Now that you've filed and served your Answer, all that's left to do is wait for the court to set your hearing date. In the meantime, reward yourself for a job well done by ordering takeout from your favorite local restaurant or treating yourself to a new pair of comfy pajamas.

Let's consider an example of how to resolve a debt lawsuit in Massachusetts.

Example: Bob falls behind on his credit card bills, and his creditor charges off the account and sells it to LVNV Funding. LVNV Funding decides to sue Bob for $5,000. When Bob receives the Summons and Complaint in the mail, he uses SoloSuit to respond with an Answer before the 20-day Massachusetts deadline. This gives Bob time to make a settlement plan. Next, he uses SoloSettle to send a settlement offer to LVNV Funding. Since he owes $5,000, Bob sends an initial offer of $2,500. LVNV considers Bob’s offer and decides to counter with $#4,500. After a few rounds of negotiations, they reach a settlement at $3,000. After preparing and signing a settlement agreement, SoloSettle transfers Bob’s money to LVNV, keeping his financial information private and secure. LVNV Funding drops the case against Bob, and he is finally off the hook. He saves thousands, avoids going to court, and gives himself a financial reset.

Check the Massachusetts statute of limitations on debt

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for debt collection is six years, as provided by Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 260, §2. This means that creditors and debt collectors only have six years from the date of last payment or activity on an account to sue debtors for outstanding debt in Massachusetts. It also means that the Massachusetts statute of limitations on credit card debt is just six years too.

The table below further illustrates the statute of limitations on different types of debt in Massachusetts:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Massachusetts

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 6 years
Oral contract 6 years
Written contract 6 years
Mortgage 6 years
Open account 6 years
Promissory note 20 years
Contract under seal 20 years
Judgment 20 years

So, if you're feeling a bit nostalgic for the days when you had less debt, make sure to keep track of the last time you made a payment or had any account activity. And if a debt collector comes knocking after six years have passed, don't be afraid to use the statute of limitations defense to keep them at bay!

Be careful not to make any payments on a debt until you know it is within the statute of limitations in your state. Doing so will reset the clock, and you might find yourself in court when you could have otherwise avoided it.

Settle your debt before going to court

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.)

In the United States, there are numerous government-funded organizations that offer free legal services to individuals who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. These organizations can provide assistance with debt collection cases or connect you with a local lawyer who can help. Some of the resources available in Massachusetts include:

So, if you're feeling overwhelmed by debt and can't afford a lawyer, don't panic! Help is available, and these organizations are here to support you.

Key Takeaways

So, in short, here's the review on how to respond to a Summons for debt collection in Massachusetts.

Make certain you know the deadline and complete the process before it expires. Massachusetts' debt collection regulations allow 20 days to file your response. SoloSuit’s Answer form makes responding before the deadline simple.

Make certain you are using the proper Massachusetts Answer form, or, to draft your response. When you fill out the form complete the following three steps:

  1. Answer each issue in the Complaint.
  2. Assert any and all of your affirmative defenses.
  3. File and serve the Answer with the Court and the plaintiff's attorney.

If you know you owe the debt, and you have enough money to settle a portion of it right away, use SoloSettle to send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with your creditor.

Good Luck!

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