Man looking at a debt summons
A young worried man sits at the desk in the office and opens an envelope with a letter, papers. Summons to court, fine, credit, debt.

How To Answer A Summons For Debt Collection

Receiving a summons for debt collection may come as a surprise. If you haven’t anticipated receiving a debt collection summons, you might understandably not know how to respond to one.

What’s most important right now is to read the summons carefully and thoroughly. The documents you’ve received will likely contain specific information about your next steps. However, in general, you should answer a summons for debt collection by:

Listing Important Details

A debt collection summons letter may contain vital details such as:

  • The identity of the party suing you
  • The amount of time you have to respond to the summons
  • The court where the party suing you has filed a lawsuit

Look for these details and make note of them. It’s also wise to make digital copies of all documents you’ve received in case you accidentally misplace any.

Meeting With an Attorney

Consulting with a legal professional after receiving a summons for debt collection is often a wise idea. An expert can evaluate your situation and provide more information about your potential legal options. For example, depending on the circumstances, instead of simply paying the plaintiff what they’re asking for, you may be able to mount a defense if you believe you don’t owe the amount the plaintiff is seeking.

Don’t delay if you plan on scheduling a meeting with a debt lawyer. Remember, you probably have limited time to respond to a summons.

Writing an Answer

Before the deadline to answer a summons arrives, you must draft a response letter. To do so, carefully review all the allegations the plaintiff has made against you.

Your letter should address every allegation by explaining whether you affirm or deny it. You may also explain that you lack sufficient information about a particular allegation to correctly determine whether it’s valid.

At this stage, you might already have developed arguments pushing back against the allegations. Include these arguments in your letter if so. Be aware, an attorney may help you with this task if you choose to hire one.

Submitting Your Response

You will need to file your answer letter with the court where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit. The summons documents may explain how to do so. If they don’t, contact the court directly for more information.

Scan your answer letter and make several copies before submitting it. Along with the copy you file with the court, you need additional copies for your records, as well as a copy for your lawyer. Keep in mind, even if you haven’t hired an attorney yet, you might change your mind and decide to do so later.

Monitoring the Situation

Keep an eye out for further correspondence once you’ve filed your answer letter with the court. It’s likely you will eventually receive information about a hearing date.

Be sure to attend any and all hearings. If you fail to appear for a hearing, the court may enter a default judgment against you, depriving you of any future legal recourse.

Now is also a good time to research your options in the event the court does side with the plaintiff. For instance, if the court determines you are responsible for paying the plaintiff what they are seeking, you may need to consult with a financial advisor to determine how to pay what you owe without unreasonably disrupting your financial situation.

In general, coordinating with lawyers, financial advisors, and other such experts is smart when you’ve received a debt collection summons. Navigating this experience is less stressful when you have assistance from professionals. Their guidance may also play a critical role in your case’s outcome.

Debt Legal Defense is a San Antonio law firm offering clients debt lawsuit defense and related services.

The Snail-Pace of Camp Lejeune Lawsuits: When Will They Be Settled?

Tax planning

3 Tax Planning Strategies