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Service Of Summons

Civil Summons For Credit Card Debt?  Don't Make These Mistakes!
By []Jay M Johnson

Observations on the Most Common MISTAKES Consumers Make When Faced with a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit

1. Consumers ignore notices for Court.

Never, ever ignore a notice from the court. If you suspect it's a fake (some FDCPA Violators a.k.a. "junk debt buyers" have been caught sending out fake documents that resemble a summons) please call your local courthouse and ask them for verification. A court clerk generally answers the phone and can search by case number or by your name.

The creditor is counting on you either not receiving the notice or not responding to it thus granting them a a default judgment. A default judgment means they WIN and can now garnish your wages and freeze your assets. You may not even receive of the judgment until a wage garnishment attachment is in place.

2. Consumers fail to respond to summons.

Many consumers feel guilty about their debt(s) and fail to respond to the summons within the time-frame indicated. Even if your debt is valid, within SOL and you want to settle, YOU STILL NEED TO RESPOND TO THE SUMMONS WITH AN ANSWER within the time-frame granted (from the date of service) which is usually 20 to 30 days.

I've seen too many cases where the consumer works out a deal directly with the debt collector (Plaintiff) and never responds to the court placing that responsibility on the Plaintiff. Guess what? Plaintiff never withdraws their suit and now they have a default judgment in addition to whatever monies they've already collected from the debtor.

3. The following practice by debt collectors seem to be an increasingly common (and sleazy) occurrence. The debt collector may sue a consumer is Court. Instead of using the Sheriff to serve the summons, the collector likely will opt to use a special process server. (This is what happened to me!)

The consumer never receives the summons because of improper service (summons was left in an obscure location on the property, with a neighbor, etc.) thus the consumer never answers the complaint, and the debt collectors win a default judgment. BUT, the debt collector sits on the judgment and waits two to three years before executing on it...usually by a surprise wage attachment. The first the consumer ever knows of the suit or judgment is when their wages are garnished. The consumer will have a hard time trying to get the Court to vacate the judgment after two or three years. And the wage garnishment will stand.

This is another excellent reason to sign up for credit monitoring so you will know immediately if something like this has happened. Additionally, many district courts have websites where you can search for your name, not a bad idea to do on a monthly basis if you suspect a collector will be filing a suit against you.

4. When served with a summons (if you are even served), immediately contact an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, you can file Pro Se, which means you represent yourself. But by all means, file the answer within the 20 to 30 days indicated! You may qualify for legal aid AND there are resources out there to help you draft your documents, check my links for referrals.

I recommend sending a Notice Of Appearance (this instructs the Court that you are an active participant in the lawsuit and that you should be informed of all communication at a designated address.)

You need to file the Answer to Complaint, Affirmative Defenses document which answers their numbered allegations with an Affirm, Deny, or Lack the Knowledge to Answer type of statment. On the same document you then go on to assert common defenses to credit card debt lawsuits such as out-of-statute, statute of frauds, etc.

You also need to send a Certificate of Service that proves you mailed your Answer documents to the Plaintiff as well as filed them with the court. AND, I highly recommend you send a Cease & Desist Letter to the Plaintiff (read my post about How To Intimidate Debt Collectors for a great tip to use w/ this letter!) that instructs them to only contact you via written correspondence and bars them from contacting your employer, friends, relatives and neighbors.

You should also consider initiating "Discovery" by serving them with a Request for Production of Documents. Basically, you want to put them on notice that you are aware of your rights, are not going to roll over and accept a default and MAKE THEM PROVE THEIR CASE!

It's well known that third-party debt collectors often only have an affidavit of debt to go off of. If you don't request any documentation that is enough for them to win or obtain a judgment. However, if you request documentation they must furnish it at a hearing. If they can't, you win!

For more information about how to fight a credit card debt lawsuit or to purchase my Word & PDF Fill-in-the-Blank templates for Notice of Appearance, Answer, Discovery, and more please visit

You have nothing to lose by fighting these predatory debt collectors and everything to gain!

Jay Johnson is a debtor advocate and credit repair blogger. More information, including Jay's Pro Se Templates, can be found at