If you’ve recently been served a summons in relation to old credit card debt. Do not panic. It can be a very frightening and unsettling experience, that is for sure!
First of all, try to relax and make rational decisions. One of people’s first impulses when they are “served” is often to call the creditor or the lawyer and try to work out some kind of deal. Unfortunately, when a past due debt has gotten to this point, it is too late to work out a payment plan with the creditor.
THAT BEING SAID…there likely WILL BE an opportunity to negotiate further down the road utilizing a strategy that often reduces the debt by at least 60% or more. Here’s the scoop. You are being sued and you are involved in a civil legal matter. You can’t trust the lawyer or the creditor, they CAN and WILL use anything you say against you. This is why a panicked phone call could sink your case before you even begin!
The good news is that many of these semi-bogus debt lawsuits (you may indeed owe the debt, but oftentimes it is out-of-statute and/or thousands more than the debt you actually incurred!) are frivolous. Somehow along the line you were electronically pinged as a good prospect for a what is called a “default judgement.”
Default judgement happens when a debtor fails to respond to a summons. Your summons will tell you how many days you have, but it generally 20 to 30 days maximum. Over 70% of debtors DO NOT RESPOND.
This is an absolute goldmine for the creditors. They get the “judgement” at their inflated fee plus interest, attorney’s fees, etc…..it’s outrageous. AND…they can garnish your wages or freeze your bank account until their judgment is satisfied in full.
Breathe. You can avoid this. You NEED to avoid this.
Much of a credit card debt lawsuit case will be play out through the mail. This buys you TIME and is a good thing. As long as you RESPOND to the SUMMONS within the appropriate time frame with an “Answer” you can feel confident that your assets are momentarily safe.
Some cases move faster than others, but on average I’ve witnessed that most cases take about seven months from summons to conclusion. You’ll send them your “Answer” along with filing it at the court and this puts the creditor ON NOTICE that you are not a chump and won’t be lining their pockets as yet another default judgement.
If your case is weak to begin with, you stand a good chance that they’ll drop the lawsuit all together. Especially if you assert “Affirmative Defenses” such as out-of-statute debt. If your debt is more recent, there are other tactics to employ and if they do not drop the case, it will likely move on the “Discovery” period where they will send you a document full of questions about the debt which you will need to respond to.
As part of this “Discovery” process you may also send them questions. This is often the smoking gun in these cases, as SO MANY third party junk debt buyers have little to no documentation to back up their claims.
Do your homework on this issue and you can not only save yourself money but also your credit rating! It’s critical that you respond ON TIME and pay close attention to every step of the process.
Yes, it totally sucks to be sued by a creditor. So many of us have tried to put bad debt behind us and just when you feel like perhaps you are getting a little ahead…BOOM!!…you are served a summons. I hear this time and time again and experienced it myself.
Taking responsibility for your finances is paramount to achieving your life’s goals. Don’t become another default statistic. Stand up and fight for your rights.
For more information on how I fought a $5K credit card debt lawsuit and won, please visit my website at http://www.howtoansweracreditcarddebtlawsuit.com
I’ve compiled an e-book with detailed sample documents, explanations and strategies to walk the average Joe through this process if they cannot afford a lawyer. Check it out!