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How to Answer a California Debt Collection Summons



Dealing with debt can be overwhelming. However, when debt collectors start to get involved, it can escalate an already stressful situation. If you are given a summons by a debt collector, you must respond to the lawsuit. If you choose to ignore the summons, the court will automatically enter a judgment in favor of the debt collector. In short, you’ll automatically lose the lawsuit. While being sued for debt is not a fun experience, it’s important to act as soon as possible. Working with a skilled finance professional is the best way to ensure you receive a favorable outcome in a debt collector lawsuit. Here are some tips on how to answer a California debt collection summons.


What Is the Deadline to Answer a California Debt Collection Summons?

Once you have received a debt collection lawsuit summons in California, you have 30 days to respond. The one exception being scenarios in which the summons was provided to a different person in your household or was sent to you in the mail. In these cases, individuals have 40 days to file an answer.


How to Respond to a Debt Collection Summons

When you receive a summons, it can feel scary or overwhelming. However, there are certain steps you must take. Since this process can be difficult to navigate, it is beneficial to work with a skilled attorney who understands the process and can guide you through submitting your response.


To begin, you must address and answer every issue outlined in the lawsuit. For every complaint, you can answer that you agree, disagree, or “don’t know.” It’s important to assert affirmative defenses or reasons why you don’t owe the debt and shouldn’t lose the lawsuit. Some of the most common affirmative defenses include:

  • The contract was canceled

  • The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit has passed

  • The debt has been paid or excused

  • The debt doesn’t belong to you

  • You co-signed for the debt but weren’t informed of your rights as a co-signer

These are some of the most common affirmative defenses used in responding to a debt collector summons. However, the best response will depend on the specifics of your situation. Working with an attorney is the best way to determine the appropriate affirmative defense for your case.


Once you file your answers and serve the debt collector, you must also file the responses with the court and provide a copy to the debt collector. Typically, an attorney will handle these tasks for you. However, if you don’t have an attorney, you must print two copies of your answers, mailing one to the court and the other to the debt collector’s attorney. Additionally, you’ll need to pay the court’s filing fee.


It is strongly advisable to file with the help of an attorney. Working with an attorney is the best way to ensure a successful outcome in your debt collection lawsuit.


Choose Morgan Sebastian for Help with Your Taxes

If you have received a California debt collection summons, it can be beneficial to seek help from a skilled tax professional. Taking control of the situation is the best way to ensure you have a favorable outcome. At Morgan Sebastian Law, Attorney Becky Sebastian is eager to help you navigate the complexities of your debt collection lawsuit. As a trusted lawyer, Attorney Becky Sebastian has years of experience representing business owners and individuals who are experiencing debt collection lawsuits, wage garnishment, and other tax-related issues. She can provide you with the professionalism and peace of mind you deserve when dealing with your debt situation.


To schedule a consultation with an experienced tax resolution lawyer, call (877) 223-6605 or fill out our online contact form.