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

Hannah Locklear | June 28, 2024

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 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon circuit court and 14 days in small claims court. You must pay a fee to file your Answer document into the case. Use SoloSuit to make your Answer and have it filed for you in minutes.

Getting sued by debt collectors is no one's favorite pastime. But, in this article we will try to ease the pain and make the process of responding to the lawsuit a little bit easier. We will show you how to answer a summons for debt collection in Oregon.

Before we begin, rest assured: you can fight and win your debt collection lawsuit.

This article covers important topics that will help you respond to your debt collection lawsuit in Oregon, including deadlines, filing fees, forms, and what your response should include.

Ready? Set? Let's go.

Respond to a Summons in Oregon.

Sued for debt in Oregon? SoloSuit can help you file an Answer into your case before the 30-day deadline (14 days for small claims).

Start my Answer.

Table of Contents

Oregon deadline to Answer a debt collection summons

It's important to respond to your debt collection lawsuit before your state's deadline. If you fail to respond in time, you risk losing by default. This means that the person or company suing you can request a default judgment against you, and if granted by the court, they will have the right to garnish your wages and seize your property to get the debt paid back.

Don't let this happen to you. Respond to your debt collection lawsuit before the Oregon deadline.

Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 7 C(2) states:

Time for response. If the summons is served by any manner other than publication, the defendant shall appear and defend within 30 days from the date of service. If the summons is served by publication pursuant to subparagraph D(6)(a)(i) of this rule, the defendant shall appear and defend within 30 days from the date stated in the summons. The date so stated in the summons shall be the date of the first publication.”

This means that, generally, you have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon.

If your lawsuit is a Small Claims case (no lawyer involved and amount claimed is less than $10,000), then you have 14 days to respond.

Use an Oregon Answer to Summons form

To respond to your debt collection lawsuit, you need to make an Answer document that responds to the Summons and Complaint you received.

The fastest and easiest way to do this is to use SoloSuit's Answer form to respond to your lawsuit. You can fill out your Answer on SoloSuit's website in just 15 minutes for free.

Here's what it looks like.

Oregon courts also provide some helpful forms. Check them out below:

Use one of these forms to create your response to the debt collection lawsuit, but you will have to fill it out by yourself. You can also take a look at these other forms provided by Oregon Courts. Oregon also provides an eFiling option, but we didn't think it was easy to use.

Oregon courts charge an Answer filing fee

Oregon courts charge a filing fee to file your Answer with them. We know, it's pretty messed up—you get sued for a debt and you have to pay a fee just to respond, even if you don't actually owe it. If you wanted to sound like a lawyer you'd say, “that's unconscionable!” But pay you must.

Here's how the fees break down, according to the Oregon Judicial Department Fee Schedule:

Small Claims fees:

  • $57 fee for cases involving less than $2,500
  • $102 fee for cases involves $2,500-$10,000

Regular Civil fees

  • $170 fee for cases involving less than $10,000
  • $283 fee for cases involving $10,000-$50,000
  • $594 fee for cases involves $50,000-$1M
Oregon has some of the highest filing fees in the country. Looks like the courts need to do a little more yoga and chill out.

Let's consider an example to understand how Answer filing fees apply.

Example: Tim is sued for $1,000 in small claims court in Oregon. Since the amount in controversy is less than $2,500, Tim needs to pay the $57 filing fee. If Tim was being sued for the same amount, but the case was filed in the circuit court, he would have to pay $170 to file his Answer.

If you can't afford to pay the filing fee, you can fill out the Oregon courts fee waiver application. If you can prove that paying the filing fee would cause financial burden, the court will likely excuse you from paying the fee.

Follow these steps to respond to a debt collection case in Oregon

A lawsuit begins when you receive the Summons and Complaint. The Summons notifies you of the case, while the Complaint lists the specific claims being made against you. Once you receive these documents, your clock starts ticking and you need to respond or you will lose your case automatically.

To respond to a Summons and Complaint in Oregon, you need to create an Answer document.

There are three steps to responding to a debt collection lawsuit.

  1. Respond to each allegation listed in the complaint.
  2. Assert your affirmative defenses.
  3. File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff.

Now, let's explore each step. Don't like reading? Check out this video instead:

SoloSuit can help you increase your chances of winning by 7x.

1. Respond to each allegation listed in the Complaint

Next, you need to respond to every paragraph of the Complaint. The Complaint includes several numbered paragraphs that lay out the lawsuit against you. For debt collection cases, there are usually between 10 and 30 numbered paragraphs. Read each paragraph and decide how you want to respond. You can only respond in three ways:

  • Admit: Admit the claim if you agree with everything in the paragraph.
  • Deny: Deny the claim if you disagree with anything in the paragraph.
  • Deny due to lack of knowledge: This is a lawyerly way of saying “I don't know.” Choose this option if you don't understand the claim or if you don't have the information needed to respond to it.

Choose one of these responses and write it into your Answer after the corresponding paragraph number.

Many attorneys recommend making a general denial, where you deny everything in the Complaint and force the other side to prove everything. This is a good strategy in many cases.

Answer a debt collection lawsuit in minutes with SoloSuit.

2. Assert your affirmative defenses

Once you've responded to each claim, you are ready to assert your affirmative defenses.

An “affirmative defense” is a reason why the person suing you doesn't have a case; it is your defense against the lawsuit. You must list these defenses in your Answer otherwise, you can't bring them up later.

That's right, asserting your affirmative defenses is a once in a lifetime opportunity: if you don't bring them up now, you are legally prohibited from bringing them up later. Many online forms don't help you assert your affirmative defenses, SoloSuit does.

According to Oregon Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 19(B) states:

Affirmative defenses. In pleading to a preceding pleading, a party shall set forth affirmatively: accord and satisfaction; arbitration and award; assumption of risk; claim preclusion; comparative or contributory negligence; discharge in bankruptcy; duress; estoppel; failure of consideration; fraud; illegality; injury by fellow servant; issue preclusion; laches; license; payment; release; statute of frauds; statute of limitations; unconstitutionality; waiver; and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.”

These are all the fancy, legal names for the different types of affirmative defenses you can include in your Answer.

Here are some of the more common defenses we see in debt collection cases (in simplified language):

  • The account with the debt is not your account.
  • The contract was already canceled. Therefore you don't owe the creditor anything.
  • The statute of limitations has expired. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a deadline on an action. Below, we break down the the statute of limitations in Oregon.
  • The debt has been paid or excused.
  • The debt has been partially paid.
  • You were a co-signer but were not informed of your rights as a co-signer.

These are a few of the many affirmative defenses. Being unable to pay the debt is not normally a legal defense to the debt.

Make the right affirmative defense the right way with SoloSuit.

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

Once you have responded to the paragraphs in the Complaint and asserted your affirmative defenses, you are ready for the final step: file your Answer.

The Answer document by itself is worthless unless you file it properly. Otherwise, it's like doing homework and not turning it in. SoloSuit takes care of this for you so you don't have to worry about buying a printer and figuring out whether you need Certified Mail or Priority Mail at the Post Office.

You can speed up the filing process by filing your Answer electronically. Oregon has a statewide court e-filing system. It can be confusing to navigate the e-filing system, but SoloSuit has it all figured out and can file your Answer in minutes.

If you prefer to mail your Answer in, here's what you need to do to file your Answer.

  • Print two copies of your Answer.
  • Mail one copy to the court.
  • Mail the other copy to the plaintiff's attorney.

The address for the attorney will be in the Summons and Complaint you received in the mail. But where is the address for the Court? Good question—most Summons don't list the address of the Court. And the mailing address is often different from the physical address of the court listed on Google. That's why we've taken the time to call every court in Oregon and find the mailing address for you. They are listed below.

Once you complete this final step: Congrats! You have successfully responded to your debt lawsuit.

SoloSuit can file your Answer for you in all 50 states.

How to settle debt in Oregon

Debt settlement can save consumers from endless debt collection calls, lawsuits, and wage garnishment. If you can accumulate money to make an offer, your creditors may be more than willing to accept.

Being proactive, coupled with decent negotiation skills, can get you a great deal. Some have been able to settle debts for half of what they owe. In most cases, offering to pay 60% can demonstrate a level of seriousness, prompting the creditor to accept the deal.

To successfully settle debt in Oregon, resist the urge to ignore calls and correspondence from debt collectors. Although these can be annoying, pretending not to notice will not resolve the debt. Instead, respond to debt collectors with a Debt Validation Letter, asking for proof that the account is yours, that it is accurate, and that the statute of limitations has not passed.

You can settle debt even after the creditor has taken you to court. Follow these steps.

  1. Respond to the lawsuit with a valid Answer. Do so within Oregon's deadline so you do not automatically lose the case. You may have up to 30 days to respond to a lawsuit in Oregon and 14 days if it's a Small Claim. The court papers should state how much time you have.
  2. Make an offer to start negotiations. Analyze your finances to determine how much you can offer. Make the offer and begin negotiations. The more reasonable your offer is, the more likely the creditor will accept it.
  3. Get the settlement agreement in writing to ensure both parties implement their end of the bargain. The contract should state how much you are paying, the forgiven balance, and the creditor's responsibilities, such as withdrawing the lawsuit and ceasing all collection efforts.

Feeling intimidated by the thought of negotiating with debt collectors? SoloSettle is an easy way for first-timers to settle debts like a pro. You can also watch the following video where talk to an attorney who shares tips and trick on how to negotiate debt settlement.

Oregon debt settlement laws protect consumers

Unfortunately, the debt settlement business has attracted many scammers and insincere individuals who prey on desperate consumers. Oregon has laws that protect debtors from extortive companies.

Oregon's debt management laws limit the fees a company can charge.

  • A $50 initial consultation fee
  • A $50 as an educational fee
  • A maximum monthly fee of 15% of the amount you have paid the debt management service provider, capped at $65
  • 7.5% of the amount reduced by a creditor

A violation can lead to a $25,000 penalty and a minimum of $200 for damages.

Speaking of laws related to debt settlement, you should also learn about Oregon's debt collection laws which exist to protect consumers from unfair collection practices. Let's start with the statute of limitations on debt in Oregon.

The statute of limitations on debt in Oregon blocks judgments over old debts

The statute of limitations is the time period that a debt collector or creditor has to sue someone for a debt they owe. If the statute of limitations on a debt is expired, then you can bring up the expiration as a winning defense in the even that you get sued.

According to Oregon's Procedure in Civil Proceedings, §12.080 states:

Action on certain contracts or liabilities. (1) An action upon a contract or liability, express or implied . . . shall be commenced within six years.”

This means that the statute of limitations on debt in Oregon is typically six years. So, if your last payment on a debt was six years ago, you cannot be taken to court for it. That being said, some types of debts have other limitations.

The table below outlines the statute of limitations on different types of debts in Oregon:

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Oregon

Debt Type Deadline
Credit Card 6 years
Medical 6 years
Student Loan 6 years
Auto Loan 6 years
Personal Loan 6 years
Mortgage 10 years
Judgment 10 years
Source: ORS § 12.050, § 12.070, and § 12.080

Regardless of the debt's statute of limitations, creditors will still try to sue you beyond the deadline and many succeed. Remember that in order to avoid being held responsible for the debt, you'll still need to mention the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in your Answer.

If you start making payments on an old debt that has already passed the statute of limitations, the clock will restart and you may be taken to court for it. Because of this, you should always check the last activity on your debt account and your state's statute of limitations before agreeing to any payment plans.

Additional debt collection laws in Oregon protect consumers

Debt collection is as heavily regulated in Oregon as in every other state in the country, and for good reason. When left unchecked, debt collectors can be abusive, misleading, and manipulative.

Fortunately, you can use these laws to your advantage.

Knowing the applicable laws protects you from illegal debt collection practices and steers you in the right direction when resolving debt.

Oregon eviction laws

The Residential Landlord and Tenant chapter of Oregon's Revised Statutes governs tenant eviction in Oregon. Legal requirements vary based on the tenancy type. Tenants on a lease agreement are treated differently than tenants on a month-to-month rental agreement. Eviction notice requirements for nonpayment of rent differ from those for a no-cause eviction.

Eviction requirements for rent arrears

Understanding Oregon's eviction laws is critical for all tenants. The law gives landlords two options to notify tenants of their intentions to evict.

  • Landlords can give a three-day notice if the tenant is eight days late on rent payment, informing them to pay within three days, or they will initiate the eviction process.
  • The landlord may give a notice five days after the rent is due and allow six days before beginning the eviction process.

Eviction notice for month-to-month tenants

The landlord must provide a 90-day notice before the eviction date to evict a tenant who pays rent once a month without cause.

If a tenant has been occupying the property for over a year, the landlord cannot issue a no-cause eviction notice unless it's an owner-occupied property or building. In such a case, the landlord must give 60-90 days' notice.

Eviction notice requirements for lease violations

Leases typically last six months to a year. Landlords and tenants cannot terminate the lease without cause unless the lease states otherwise.

The landlord may legally terminate the lease for the following reasons.

  • Non-payment of the lease
  • Violation of the lease agreement
  • Intentionally engaging in dangerous behavior

A 24-hour eviction notice in Oregon

According to ORS 90.396, a landlord can legally give you a 24-hour notice if:

  • You, someone you are responsible for, or your pet seriously injures or threatens someone with injury on the property.
  • You, or someone you are responsible for, substantially damage property on purpose.
  • Your pet damages cause substantial damage to the property on more than one occasion.
  • You lie about your criminal history.
  • You are involved in prostitution on the premises.
  • You, or someone you are responsible for, distribute, deliver, or possess illegal drugs.
  • You make a cannabinoid extract on the premises without a license.
  • You are guilty of a bias crime.
  • You committed burglary.

Remember that a landlord cannot issue a 24-hour notice to a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking.

Find debt relief in Oregon

In the following scenarios, seeking debt relief in Oregon may be your best option.

  • You recognize that you have little hope of repaying your unsecured debts.
  • Your unsecured debt is more than half your gross income.
  • Creditors are threatening or have already sued you for unsecured debt.

Below, we cover some of the best ways to find debt relief in Oregon. Pick the best option for you, depending on your situation.

Debt management plans

Working with a credit counseling agency may provide relief. These companies work by negotiating reduced fees and lower interest rates. You work with them to set up a period during which you remit payment so they can pay your creditors on your behalf. Creditors then close each account as you pay them off.

Keep in mind that closing accounts reduces your credit score. The program may also require you to surrender access to further credit until completion.

If you decide to use a debt relief company, choose a legitimate one that complies with Oregon debt relief law.

Debt settlement

One way to get out of debt fast is to pay it off for less. If you owe $10,000 on a credit card, you may convince the creditor to accept $6,000 instead. However, you must explain why you cannot repay the total amount.

Settling debt in Oregon requires the one thing consumers try to avoid: communication with debt collectors. Many, therefore, turn to debt settlement companies to help. The danger is that debt settlement companies are not always trustworthy, and their strategies do not work for everyone.

For example, some will ask you to stop paying creditors without explanation. They plan to get you to default in a way that pushes creditors to offer you a settlement deal. However, this plan can easily backfire, especially when creditors realize you are paying a third party a considerable amount to represent you. Remember, no creditor is obligated to offer or accept a settlement offer. If they stay adamant, you may wind up worse than you started.

If you cannot afford the extra money to hire debt settlement help, try it yourself. You will need to contact your creditors to make an offer. If you do, keep a record of your communication with them. Consider communicating through email or certified mail. If you decide to call, ask if you can record the conversation, as you may lose proof of any agreements you make via the phone.

Apply for bankruptcy as a last resort

Filing for bankruptcy may result in losing your non-exempt property, but it can wipe out unsecured debts, offering you a new beginning.

Stop wage garnishment in Oregon

Creditors with money judgments can petition the court to allow them to take money from a debtor's paycheck. The decision can be disorienting, considering many in Oregon already feel the pinch of the rising cost of living.

Oregon residents stop wage garnishment if they understand how it works and how much a creditor can garnish.

Oregon's wage garnishment laws direct creditors and employers on how to go about wage garnishment.

    The maximum amount: creditors can garnish Creditors can take up to 25% of your disposable income. Alternatively, they may garnish the amount by which your weekly earnings exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage per hour.
  • Exemptions: Some incomes, such as unemployment benefits, are exempt from wage garnishment.
  • Notice of Hearing: Creditors must provide a written notice at least ten days before initiating wage garnishment. You may challenge the order by requesting a hearing.
  • Employers should notify you immediately of impending garnishment orders.
  • Garnishment priority. Some debts, such as child support, precede creditor debts.

You can object to wage garnishment for any reason that violates these laws. For instance, you may stop the order if the debt amount is wrong, the garnishment exceeds the accepted limit, or your earnings fall beneath the Federal poverty line. You may also fill out an exemption form to stop creditors from taking your exempt earnings.

Find your court case in Oregon

You can better defend yourself if you know where the case is filed. Fortunately, Oregon has online access to court records and dates. You can access any information categorized as public records.

Understanding the Oregon court system makes tracking your case simpler. The system is organized at four levels.

  1. Supreme Court: This is the highest judicial level and deals with appealed cases from the Court of Appeals
  2. Court of Appeals: handles civil cases appealed from the Circuit Court
  3. Circuit Court: resolves civil cases without monetary limit, small claims cases up to $10,000, and those appealed from the Justice Court
  4. Justice Court: tackles small claims cases involving up to $10,000

Depending on the amount involved, your debt collection case will be filed in your county's Circuit Court or Justice Court.

How to find your court case

You can search your court case in Oregon using one of the following options.

Use the free online records search

.You will need to provide the following information:
  • Case number/record number
  • Name of any of the parties in the case

Subscribe to OJCIN OnLine.

This option has substantial fees and may suit attorneys and law firms more.

Visit the courthouse in person

Provide the court clerk with some or all of this information for fast access.

  • Estimated date the case was filed
  • Party names
  • Case number
  • Hearing dates
  • Attorney names

To find a case number, go to Find a Court, select your county, and Enter your and the plaintiff's names. If the information is correct, you should instantly access the court file and number.

Every state has at least one government-funded organization that provides free legal services to people. Oregon has a couple:

Legal Aid Services of Oregon
520 SW Sixth Avenue, Ste 1130
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 224-4094

Oregon Law Help
Find your office by county

Public Benefits Hotline

We have answers.
Join our community of over 40,000 people.

You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now or are just looking for support, we're here for you.

Ask a Question.

Oregon court mailing addresses

To file your Answer, you need to get it to your court. For many people, the easiest way to do this is to mail it. But it can be surprisingly difficult to find the mailing address for your court online. So we've compiled a list of nearly all Oregon courts and their addresses, court clerk information, and more.

Use our Oregon courts page to find more information on your courthouse.

How to file in small claims court in Oregon

The small claims court, sometimes called the people's courts, handles cases worth $10,000 or less.

If you need to file an Answer in Oregon small claims court to respond to a debt collection lawsuit, use SoloSuit to ensure your response is valid and timely. Remember to assert your affirmative defenses, as you cannot bring them up later during the trial.

You may also:

  • Request for a jury trial.
  • File counterclaims. If your counterclaim is worth more than $10,000, file a motion to transfer the case to an appropriate court; otherwise, your case will be dismissed.

As a defendant, you must pay filing fees based on the lawsuit's value so that your Answer is accepted.

How to file in Deschutes County Circuit Court

Deschutes County Circuit Court and other circuit courts in Oregon tackle criminal, civil, and domestic relations, traffic, small claims, violations, and probate, among others. Chances are high that someone suing you in Deschutes will file a case in the circuit court.

There are statewide fees, whether you are initiating a case or responding to a lawsuit.

If you are not an attorney, you can file in Deschutes Circuit Court in one of the following ways:

  • Send the document to 1100 NW Bond Street, Bend, OR 97703, and include a check for the filing fees.
  • Personally drop the document off at the courthouse. Remember to pay the filing fee.
  • Use the court's electronic filing system, OJD eFile.

If you are the defendant, the first document you file should be a written Answer.

You can pay filing fees using:

  • Major credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • eChecks
  • Checks
  • Cash

For consumers attending circuit court for the first time, bring your government-issued ID, paperwork, evidence, and cash or a checkbook.

Debt consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

Debt consolidation combines several debts into one. Of course, you cannot mix different debts into one package as they come with different contractual terms. But you can take one large loan, use it to repay all your existing debts, and service the new loan until it's paid off.

Consumers can consolidate debt in Eugene, Oregon, by taking the following steps:

  • Analyze and categorize your debts to determine your indebtedness, credit score, and whether debt consolidation is the right option for you.
  • Analyze your monthly income. Debt consolidation works best for consumers with regular income. Commission-based income varies with each paycheck, so you may be unsure if you will keep up with repayments.
  • Create a realistic budget. Making a budget can expose overspending, which you should curb to achieve your goals.
  • Come up with a repayment plan. Calculate how much you owe and determine whether the monthly repayments you plan to make will pay it off within the set period.

If you can afford to consolidate your debts, choose one of the following options.

  • Home Equity Loans
  • Personal Loans
  • Credit card balance transfers
  • Lines of credit
  • Loans from credit unions or banks
  • Debt consolidation through finance companies
  • Savings or retirement accounts

You'll be successful if you remember the following pointers:

  • Set separate dates for paying the loan and other significant expenses.
  • Use budgeting apps to track your habits.
  • Grow your savings as you pay the debt.
  • Pay more than the minimum amount.

Also, remember to conduct proper research so you do not pick a loan with high interest rates and lengthy repayment periods.

Key Takeaways

So, here's the review on how to answer a Summons for debt collection in Oregon.

  • You have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Oregon. If your case is in Oregon Small Claims court, you have 14 days to respond.
  • You can use SoloSuit's Answer form to respond to your Oregon debt case in minutes.
  • Oregon circuit courts charge a fee to file your Answer: $170 for cases with less than $10,000 in question, $283 for cases between $10,000 and $50,000, and $594 for cases with more than $50,000 in question.
  • You must respond with a written Answer document in which you reply to each claim listed in the Complaint and assert your affirmative defenses.
  • File your Answer in the court and send a copy to the plaintiff's attorney.
  • The statute of limitations on debt in Oregon is 6 years.

We hope this guide has been helpful, and we wish you the best of luck with your court case!

>>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.)

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Do you keep getting calls from an unknown number, only to realize that it’s a debt collector on the other line? If you’ve been called by any of the following numbers, chances are you have collectors coming after you, and we’ll tell you how to stop them.

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Statute of limitations on debt state guides

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

Check the status of your court case

Don’t have time to go to your local courthouse to check the status of your case? We’ve created a guide on how to check the status of your case in every state, complete with online search tools and court directories.

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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