The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in tough economic times for many people in Georgia, resulting in disruption or loss of employment for many. As a result, more people are struggling to put food on the table and make timely payments on their loans, whether it be a home loan, student loan, credit card, or combination.
Dealing with debt collectors can be a difficult and emotionally draining experience, especially when you are already struggling financially. You may be tempted to ignore their correspondence and mailings in the hope that they will eventually give up and go away. Unfortunately, this is not usually how it works. In fact, failing to respond to a debt collector could result in them escalating the matter to litigation.
Failing to respond to a legal Complaint filed by a debt collector can have serious consequences. Ignoring the Summons and Complaint might make the court assume all the allegations levied by the debt collector are true and enter summary judgment against you. It is important to take these documents seriously and respond accordingly.
Roughly ten million Americans are sued for debt collection every year in the United States. However, only a tenth of these people respond to the lawsuit. This leaves the remaining ninety percent who fail to respond and effectively waive their rights. As a result, the debt collector is able to obtain a default judgment.
Debt collectors have certain legal tools at their disposal to collect on a debt, including obtaining a default judgment. This allows them to seize assets or garnish wages. To avoid this situation, it is important to file an Answer to the Summons and Complaint filed by the debt collector.
Answering A Summons For Debt Collection In Georgia
In Georgia, a defendant has 30 days to file an answer to a Summons and Complaint after it has been served. However, there may be extenuating circumstances that delay the service of the process. In these cases, you can ask the court for an extension, which would give you an additional 15 days to file a response.
Failing to file an answer within 45 days will likely result in the court finding in favor of the debt collector. This is because the debt collector can show that you didn’t respond within the deadline, and you could be at risk of losing the case by the court entering a default judgment against you.
Answer To Summons Forms In Georgia
It is important to file an Answer to a Summons and Complaint in order to respond formally and contest the claims made by the debt collector. Your Answer can deny, accept, or notify the court that you lack sufficient information to either deny or accept certain allegations put forth by the debt collector.
Your Answer document needs to be in the right format and cover all the points the debt collector makes in its complaint. Otherwise, there is a chance the court will rule in the collector’s favor on any claims you don’t contest, even though you filed your Answer within the time limit set by law.
The debt collector does not need to present any evidence to the court for debts you have accepted. The judge will automatically issue a judgment for these debts. However, for claims you have denied, the debt collector must provide convincing proof that they are valid. It is usually not a good idea to deny claims you know are true. Doing so may make the judge doubt your credibility.
Also, the debt collector will need to provide more information to you and the court about the allegations you claim not to know enough about. You can also choose to issue a counterclaim against the debt collector. Including your counterclaim in a separate document and sending it to the court and plaintiff along with your Answer is how you would go about this option.
Different courts in Georgia have different fees for filing an Answer to a case. The fee amount varies depending on the county and court, but typically, the courts that require electronic filing are the ones that also charge these fees. In Georgia, these fees can range anywhere from $14 to $30.
There are options available to those who cannot pay the filing fee for court. You can contact the court clerk to have some of the fees waived or forgiven. In most cases, you will need to submit a fee waiver request. The court will usually only accept your request under certain circumstances, such as being a recipient of public benefits or having an income that cannot cover both your family’s needs and the court fees.
You Must Follow These Steps To Fight A Debt Collection Lawsuit
As soon as you are served with the Summons and Complaint, you need to take action. These documents will be delivered to you either in person or by someone else of legal age and sound mind. The second option is to prevent you from claiming that you didn’t receive the documents.
You have 30 days to respond to a debt lawsuit in Georgia by mailing a copy of your response document to both the court and the plaintiff. To do so, follow these three steps:
- Respond to each claim listed in the Complaint.
- Assert your affirmative defenses.
- File the Answer in court, and send a copy to the opposing attorney.
You have the right to dispute a summons for debt collection, especially if you believe you do not owe the debt or have already paid it. To do this, you must file a motion to dismiss the summons with the court.
This will stop the 30-day clock for submitting an answer to the summons. However, keep in mind that the court may reject your motion to dismiss, in which case you will only have 30 days to submit an answer. Finally, remember that filing for bankruptcy may also halt debt collection efforts against you.
The other option is to contact the debt collector or creditor and try to work out a new repayment plan or settlement. This can save you time and money on legal fees but may be more difficult than going to court.
Respond to each claim listed in the Complaint
A typical Complaint document includes numbered paragraphs outlining claims against you. You can deny, accept, or state that you are unsure about some of these complaints. It is crucial that you respond to each allegation listed in detail.
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The first section of your Answer document should be a list of responses to each claim from the Complaint. You can answer each claim with one of the following responses:
- Admit the claim. This is like saying, “this is true.”
- Deny the claim. This is like saying, “prove it.”
- Deny the claim due to lack of knowledge. This is like saying, “I don’t know.”
Assert your affirmative defenses
In your Answer document, list responses to each claim made in the Complaint. Your response should refute or support each claim. Be sure to back up your position with evidence.
Asserting affirmative defenses can help when a debt collector serves papers to the wrong person. This often happens when the debtor shares a name with the rightful borrower, or when someone has stolen the personal information and used it for a loan.
Also, debt collectors have a set of rules they need to follow. Breaking any of these rules can result in being sued, and the court will dismiss the case.
Generally, in Georgia, debt collectors cannot:
- Threaten you.
- Tell anyone about the debt.
- Serve you with a revealing envelope.
- Contact me before 8 am or after 9 pm Georgia time.
- Contact you at work if they know your employer does not permit personal calls.
- Contact you personally when they are aware you have an attorney.
Although filing for bankruptcy may seem like a daunting task, it can actually provide relief from debt and allow you to start fresh. In fact, once you have successfully filed for bankruptcy, any lawsuits that have been filed against you will be automatically dismissed. So don’t hesitate to take advantage of this legal protection – it could be the fresh start you need.
The automatic dismissal of a lawsuit only applies in certain cases, such as when the person being sued has already filed for bankruptcy. Otherwise, the lawsuit will continue as normal.
The debt collector may charge an interest rate that is different from the initial creditor’s rates. However, you can reduce the amount you need to pay by proving this in court. It is possible to get out of paying a loan back or to have the debt reduced, by proving that you were not of sound mind when you took the loan out.
Make Three Copies Of The Answer
The final step is to make three copies of the answer document. One copy should be mailed to the address where the summons and complaint originated, another copy should be sent to the debt collector’s attorney, and the last copy should be kept for your own records.
You should always send important documents via priority mail to ensure fast delivery, especially when you’re up against a tight deadline. However, another option is to hand-deliver the documents to the court clerk and your debt collectors’ offices in person.
The Statute Of Limitations On Debt
There is a time limit for how long a creditor or debt collector can sue someone for a debt, known as the statute of limitations. This means that once this time period expires, you can’t be taken to court for that debt. However, this time limit varies by state and type of debt.
According to Georgia Code, §9-3-25 states:
“All actions upon open account, or for the breach of any contract not under the hand of the party sought to be charged, or upon any implied promise or undertaking shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.”
And §9-3-24 states:
“All actions upon simple contracts in writing shall be brought within six years after the same become due and payable.”
The Georgia statute of limitations on credit card debt is four years. This means that creditors have four years to file a lawsuit against you for unpaid credit card debt. After four years, your debt will be considered “time-barred,” and creditors will no longer be able to sue you for nonpayment.
A creditor or debt collector only has four years to sue for a credit card debt in Georgia, starting from the date of the last activity on the debt account.
There is no way to get around a statute of limitations. It is by far the best affirmative defense to use in your Answer. Proving that four years have passed since an event occurred means you will automatically win your case, regardless of whether or not you actually owe debt from that event.
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You Can Get Legal Assistance From A Georgia Legal Aid Organization
There are many people who struggle to pay their debts and cannot afford legal fees. However, there are programs available to help military personnel get the legal assistance they need. The military legal assistance program connects military personnel to state bar members who offer pro bono services or discounts. This can be a great way to get the legal help you need without having to worry about the cost.
Here are some important things you need to know about when drafting an Answer to a debt collection summons in Georgia:
- Receiving a debt collection summons can be stressful, but it is important to respond to them. Ignoring a summons will not make the debt go away. You need to take action to deal with the debt.
- Ignoring a Summons and Complaint from a debt collector will likely result in the court granting a motion for default judgment. This is because you did not respond to the summons, and the collector probably filed a motion for default judgment.
- Debt collectors in Georgia have a limited time frame in which they can file a lawsuit against you. You can protect your rights by filing an Answer within 30 days of receiving the complaint.