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How do you answer a debt collection summons?

When handling debt, the last thing anyone wants is for debt collectors to end up involved. This can elevate an already stressful situation to a nearly unbearable degree.

However, if you receive a summons from a debt collector, you have a legal obligation to respond to the lawsuit. Refusing to respond will default a judge’s decision in the collector’s favor, meaning you automatically lose. So what can you do instead?

Follow the deadlines

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau looks into what you should do when handling a summons from a debt collector. As mentioned, the first thing you need to do is act. Refusing to act or ignoring the summons is a sure-fire way to end up in the worst situation, as the court will rule in favor of the debt collector.

Be sure to respond within the allotted time, too. In California, the deadline to respond to a debt collector summons extends to thirty days beyond the receipt of the summons. In the case of a summons sent by mail or to a different person in the household, this deadline extends to forty days.

Address all points in the summons

You also need to address and answer everything brought up in the lawsuit. You must answer with agree, disagree or “don’t know”. You must assert strong reasons why you do not owe the debt and should not lose the lawsuit, proving such with an affirmative defense.

The most popular affirmative defenses include the debt not belonging to you, the debt getting excused, you already paying the debt, a contract cancellation, a passed statute of limitations, or co-signing a debt without understanding your rights.