George Simons | July 27, 2022
Summary: Receive a summons for credit card debt? Learn how to respond with this Sample Answer. Use the right affirmative defenses when you file your response and you can win in court.
Getting served with a Summons and Complaint related to unpaid credit card debt is an awful and traumatizing experience for many people. When you are served with a Summons and Complaint for a debt, it means a process server likely visited your home or place of work, asked you for your name, and presented you with a copy of the Summons.
If you have endured this experience, do not give up hope. You may be feeling overwhelmed and intimidated at the prospect of potentially taking on a large bank or financial institution in a court of law. This is perfectly understandable, but keep in mind that you have legal rights and are fully capable of challenging the allegations levied by the credit card company in the accompanying Complaint. Many debt collection lawsuits are rife with errors, and you may not even owe the amount alleged in the lawsuit. This is why you should stand up and assert your rights by filing an Answer to the Complaint.
Here's everything you need to know about drafting and filing an Answer to a credit card debt lawsuit, with sample Answers included.
Drafting an Answer may seem like an intimidating feat at first, but following these 6 steps is a great way to begin. The following sample Answer can also serve as your guide. You can draft one of these Answers for free with SoloSuit:
Now, let's break down these 6 tips a little further.
When you are served, make sure to take the time to review both the Summons and Complaint thoroughly. In your Answer, you should focus on responding to the allegations listed in the Complaint.
At this stage in a lawsuit, the burden of proof is not on you. As a result, you don't need to worry about giving an elaborate explanation of your side of the story. In fact, giving too much information in the beginning can end up weakening your case in the long run. Your Answer should include an individual response to each paragraph listed in the Complaint.
As a rule of thumb, it's best to deny as many allegations as possible. Think about it: if you admit to everything, why should the judge or jury even consider your side of the case? As such, denying is your best bet. To answer each allegation, you can use one of the three following responses:
If an allegation in the Complaint is obviously true, there's no problem in admitting it. For example, if the Complaint alleges you reside at 2121 Cherry Lane, and you do reside there, you should respond affirmatively that you reside at that location. If, on the other hand, an allegation in the Complaint is untrue or you're not sure, denying is definitely the best response.
In certain instances, an allegation in the Complaint may contain claims that are partially true and partially false. In this situation, you can use a combined response. Here is an example response you can use in your Answer:
After you've responded to each allegation in the Complain, you should assert your affirmative defenses. This is the section of the Answer where you get to state your side of the case and all the reasons why the person suing you doesn't have a case. Avoid going into detail with your affirmative defenses (see our sample Answer above for examples of how to word your affirmative defenses)
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.
Keep in mind that being unable to pay the debt is not normally a legal defense to the debt.
According to Rule 10 which outlines the proper format of court documents, each Answer should begin with a caption that includes the court name, the case name, and the fle number (or case number). Additionally, all your responses and affirmative defenses should be listed in numbered paragraphs.
Most courts require you to include a Certificate of Service, which is essentially proof that you also served the Answer to the plaintiff's attorney. The Certificate of Service is listed at the bottom of the Answer document, and it includes the date and attorney's address where the Answer was sent. Here's an example of a Certificate of Service:
Original of the foregoing was caused to be filed via mail on 02/22/22 to:
The Superior Court of California
San Bernardino County
247 West Third Street
San Bernardino CA 92415
Copy caused to be sent via mail on this day to:
1000 Collection Dr.
Hotel CA 98002
Last, but certainly not least, you should sign the Answer at the bottom of the page.
There are many courts that require a wet signature, or an actual signature, in place of an electronic one. You should be aware that the court can reject an Answer if there is no signature. Always sign off to prove that the court received the original copy of your Answer.
Once your Answer is complete, make sure you take the necessary steps to get the Answer filed with the Court on time. You have 14-30 days to file the Answer, depending on which state you live in. When you are served with the Summons and Complaint, there will be a date provided by the Court that indicates when you need to file your Answer. Make sure to file before the deadline to avoid default judgment.
Here are some other tips for properly filing your Answer to a debt collection lawsuit:
If you are served with a Summons and Complaint related to credit card debt, do not neglect or ignore these legal documents. If you fail to respond to the Complaint, you are waving the flag of defeat and the debt collector will likely secure a default judgment against you. Do not let this happen. Make sure you take the time to review the Complaint and file an Answer.
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"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
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? We're making guides on how to beat each one.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.