If you are sued over a debt, the most important thing is not to ignore the lawsuit.
If you do not respond to the lawsuit or meet court deadlines, the company suing you will automatically win, even if their claims are false.
When you are sued, you should receive a summons and complaint.
This is called being “served.” The complaint tells you why you are being sued.
The summons tells you how and when to respond to a lawsuit.
You must file an answer to the complaint in writing with the court.
The complaint will include statements about the debt and about you.
If any statements are false, you must tell the court by denying them in your answer.
Your answer should also tell the court any reasons why you shouldn’t have to pay the debt.
Here are some common reasons for defenses:
It is not your debt.
1. You may be a victim of identity theft, or the collector may be trying to get you to pay a family member’s debt or a business account that isn’t legally your responsibility.
2. You have already paid all you owed, or you included the debt in a bankruptcy, or the company agreed to forgive part of the debt if you made a certain payment.
3. The amount is wrong.
You may have other defenses.
For example, that the debt is too old to collect, or that the company collecting it doesn’t have the right to do so.
Filing an answer and defenses does not mean the debt collector’s case will go away. It just tells the court your point of view and keeps you actively involved in the case.
Make sure you attend all hearings and respond to any filing deadlines.