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How to Settle a Debt in Georgia

Sarah Edwards | March 08, 2023

Settling a debt in Georgia can be simple.

Summary: You have 30 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Georgia, and you can reach out to settle your debt before court at any stage of the process. Just be sure to file your Answer before the deadline, send an offer to kickstart negotiations, and get the agreement in writing. SoloSettle can help you with each of these steps and more.

Falling behind on your debt obligations is frustrating. Whether you lost your income or took on too much debt and can’t find a way out, you know your creditor won’t let you off easily.

Once you stop making payments on a debt, your creditor will start calling you and sending you letters. If you don’t resume your payments, they may sell your account to a debt collector or pursue a lawsuit against you.

Your creditor will receive a judgment in their favor if they decide to sue you and win. A judgment will allow them to garnish your wages or freeze your bank account. You’ll lose a portion of your income every paycheck until you fully repay the debt.

If you’re facing a debt lawsuit from your creditor, you need to try to repay the debt or settle it before your court date. That way, you can avoid a judgment and move on from this stress in your life.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you settle debt in Georgia once and for all. Let’s get right to it.

There are three steps to settle your debt in Georgia

To begin the debt settlement process, you’ll need to understand three steps:

  1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with your Answer.
  2. Make an offer.
  3. Get the settlement agreement in writing.

Below, we’ll explore these three steps in detail. Alternatively, you can watch this video to learn more:

1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with your Answer

Your creditor will begin the legal process by filing a Complaint against you. The Complaint will list their reasons for suing you, including how much you owe. You’ll receive a copy of the Complaint and a Summons to appear in court.

Most people don’t realize they need to respond to the Complaint with an Answer. An Answer is a legal document used to defend a debt lawsuit. In the Answer, you’ll list why you believe the case isn’t valid.

You have 30 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Georgia. If you don’t respond in time, you will likely receive a default judgment. This means that you lose the case automatically, and debt collectors will have the right to garnish your wages.

Even if you know you owe the debt and intend to settle it, you should still file an Answer. An Answer protects you from a default judgment, which the judge will grant to your creditor if your efforts at settling the lawsuit don’t work out.

Common defenses you can use for your Answer include insufficient validation of the debt, or the debt is past the statute of limitations.

Make the right defense the right way with SoloSuit.

2. Make an offer to start negotiating

Your next step is figuring out how much you can afford to pay in a debt settlement. You will likely have a few weeks before your court date, so you’ll need to gather money quickly.

Assess your savings and income. Take on any odd jobs you know of. You could also sell a few items you don’t need or ask for help from friends and family.

Ideally, you’ll want to offer your creditor at least 60% of your total debt in a settlement. That amount is enough to attract your creditor and make them weigh the benefits of accepting a lump sum payment from you versus further collection activities.

Once you send your offer to your creditor, they’ll likely counter it with one of their own. Be prepared to negotiate before reaching a deal you can accept.

Don’t agree to any offer you know you’ll have difficulty repaying. If you agree to a deal and fail to meet its terms, your creditor will continue the legal process against you and win their lawsuit.

SoloSettle sends and receives offers for you.

3. Get the settlement agreement in writing

Once you have a deal with your creditor, put it in writing. A written agreement ensures both parties understand the terms, so there won’t be any misinterpretation.

Your agreement should list the amount you’ll repay, when it’s due, and how you’ll send the payment. You should include a statement that absolves you from the remaining debt balance and stops the creditor from taking further collection activity against you.

SoloSettle manages your debt settlement agreement documentation so you don't have to.

We recommend that both parties to the agreement ask for a notary to witness it. A notarized contract provides a legal layer of protection. If you fulfill the terms of the agreement and your sneaky creditor backs out of their end of the bargain, you’ll be able to defend yourself from their actions.

Here is a debt settlement agreement example so you know what to look for in yours.

Since you’re a little more familiar with debt settlement now, let’s take a look at an example of how to settle debt in Georgia.

Example: Cody receives a Summons and Complaint from his creditor, Home Base Credit, in Georgia. He stopped paying his monthly bill to Home Base when he lost his job. Although he has a new job, he never reconnected with Home Base to reestablish his payments. Home Base is suing Cody for $2,000. Cody files an Answer to the lawsuit with SoloSuit’s help, claiming insufficient debt validation. Next, he uses SoloSettle to contact Home Base to arrange a settlement. Cody decides he can pay 60% of the obligation, or $1,200, right now He makes his first offer at 50%, or $1,000. Home Base decides that is not enough and sends a counteroffer. After a few rounds of negotiations, They ask Cody to pay $1,500 in exchange for dropping the lawsuit. He agrees to pay $1,500 and sets up a settlement contract. After both Cody and Home Base sign and notarize the agreement, Cody transfers the money through SoloSettle. Home Base drops the lawsuit and reports the debt settled to the credit reporting bureaus.

What are Georgia’s debt collection and debt settlement laws?

Georgia adheres to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) concerning debt collection. Under the FDCPA, creditors can’t take specific actions against a consumer, including:

  • Using obscene or threatening language to force a consumer to pay a debt
  • Calling a debtor at odd hours, like before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Telling a consumer they’ll go to jail for failing to repay a debt
  • Pretending to be someone they’re not while attempting to collect an obligation
  • Using a template designed to appear like a legal process when pursuing a debt
  • Contacting the debtor at work when the debtor asks them not to

Georgia’s statute of limitations limits a creditor's time to pursue a debt in court. Under O.C.G.A. 9-3-25 (2010), open accounts have a four-year cap on obligations. O.C.G.A. 9-3-26 (2010) places a limit of four years on oral contracts, and O.C.G.A. 9-3-24 (2010) has a statute of limitations of six years on written agreements.

Finally, the Federal Trade Commission has recently amended the Telemarketing Sales Rule to expand debt settlement regulations to all debt relief organizations and companies. All 50 states, including Georgia, are governed by this Rule as it relates to debt settlement practice.

Under the new Rule, any company that provides debt relief services, namely debt settlement companies, cannot:

  • Charge upfront fees. Debt settlement companies cannot collect any fees from a consumer before the debt has been effectively settled or otherwise resolved.
  • Fail to disclose certain information about its services before a consumer enrolls in the program. This includes how much the service costs, how long it takes to see results, how much money must be saved before a settlement offer is made, consequences that may occur if the consumer fails to make payments on time, customer’s rights, and other important terms.
  • Misrepresent their services. No false or unsubstantiated claims can be made regarding a debt settlement company’s services.

What debt settlement company is the best choice?

SoloSettle empowers consumers by helping them negotiate a debt settlement on their own terms. The web app allows you to send and receive offers from creditors and debt collectors. Each offer includes all the proper legal language to protect your rights as you communicate with creditors and collectors.

After you get a settlement deal, SoloSettle takes care of the settlement agreement documents and protects your financial information, preventing the creditor from overcharging you.

Settle with SoloSettle

Make an Offer

Below are some other trusted debt settlement services.

National Debt Relief is one of the nation’s most extensive debt settlement services. The company helps consumers resolve unsecured debts like credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans. Those enrolling in these programs make monthly payments toward settlement. Most people finish their programs within two to four years.

Freedom Debt Relief is another large provider of debt settlement services. Since 2002, the company has regularly assisted thousands of people with debt settlement. To qualify for their program, you must have at least $7,500 in debt and agree to a monthly payment schedule.

Pacific Debt Relief offers programs that last between one and four years. The company operates in 32 states, and you’ll need at least $7,500 in unsecured debt to qualify for their program. The cost for their services ranges from 15 to 25% of the total value of your debt.

Accredited Debt Relief is a debt settlement company that helps individuals resolve unsecured debts. Like Freedom Debt Relief, those who sign up for the program will complete it within two to four years and pay fees ranging between 15% and 25%.

How should I contact my creditor?

You can start the debt settlement process yourself by reaching out to your creditor via phone, email, or letter.

Email is best for keeping a written record of the conversation between you and your creditor. Usually, it takes a day or two to resolve your debt via email.

You may also consider calling your debt collector. A phone conversation should take less than half an hour, so it’s the best method if you’re short on time and want to resolve the matter quickly.

Under GA Code § 16-11-62, only one person must consent to record the conversation. You’ll be the party who agrees to the recording. You don’t have to ask your debt collector for permission to record the call.

Get answers to FAQs about settling debt in Georgia

Most people considering debt settlement in Georgia have other questions about the process. Here are a few of the most common:

Q. What percentage of debt should I offer to settle?

The amount you offer to your debt collector depends on what you can afford. We recommend starting with at least 60% of the total value of your debt. However, if you can’t afford that much, explain your situation to your creditor to see what they’ll accept.

Q. Is it better to settle a debt or pay it off?

It’s best to repay your debt per the terms of your agreement. However, settling it is an option if you can’t afford to pay your obligation. Settling your debt protects you from potential legal action against you and stops further collection activities.

Q. Can I settle my debt myself?

Yes, you can settle your debt on your own. Determine how much you can afford to repay your creditor and start the conversation. Make sure to get your agreement in writing before sending the creditor your money.

How to get debt relief in Georgia

SoloSuit has several other guides concerning debt in Georgia. Here are a few resources to review:

You can settle your debt in Georgia

It’s possible to settle your debt in Georgia by following a few steps. If you’re facing a debt lawsuit, make sure to respond with an Answer. Next, contact your creditor to arrange a settlement. Once you have a deal, get the contract in writing before sending your money.

If you need help settling a debt in Georgia, learn how SoloSuit makes it simple.

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.)

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