If I’ve been sued for credit card debt, now what?

UPDATED: Jan 4, 2012

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If I’ve been sued for credit card debt, now what?

I was just served a summons yesterday to appear in court to pay for a $2700 outstanding credit card debt. I was told if I pay before the court date, they would drop the case. Now try as I will to pay before court, but if I cannot, what happens? Will repo men come to my house and take what they believe is $3,000 worth of my stuff? Will they expect a check paid in full on my court date?

Asked on January 4, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No one will come to your house and take three thousand dollars of your possessions.

Attached to the summons is the complaint which is the lawsuit.  All you need to do is file an answer to the complaint with the court within the time set forth in the summons and serve your answer by mail on the opposing party.  If you don't file a timely answer with the court and serve it on the opposing party, the opposing party will get a default judgment entered against you.  This means you will have lost the case by default.  If that happens, you will need to file a motion to set aside the default.  If the court grants your motion, the case will then be back on track and litigation will continue.

If there is a default judgment against you and it is not set aside, the other party could get a wage garnishment or place a lien on your home to enforce the judgment.

At this initial stage in the case where you have been served with the summons and complaint, just file an answer to the complaint with the court and serve it on the opposing party by mail.  An attorney can handle this for you.  If you don't have an attorney, look for answer to complaint in the index of Pleading and Practice at the law library.  This will give you the general format for an answer to a complaint.  The answer denies the allegations in the complaint.  At the end of the answer is the verification which you sign and date under penalty of perjury attesting to the veracity of your statements in the answer.  Attach a proof of service to your answer and verification and file your documents with the court.  You can use a court form proof of service or you can write your own.  If you write your own proof of service, it just says that you are at least eighteen and the attached documents were sent via first class mail unless stated otherwise to ________ (name and address of opposing party or opposing party's attorney on __________ (date).  You sign and date at the bottom.  The date you sign should be the same as the date of mailing and the same date you file your documents with the court.  The proof of service just verifies the date of mailing your documents to the opposing party.

There is no need to pay $2700 at this time.

If you eventually settle the case, you may be able to negotiate a lesser amount, but at this point all you need to do is file the answer to the complaint with the court and serve by mail a copy of the answer on the opposing party or their attorney.


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

To protect your interests, it is best that you timely file an answer with affirmative defenses to the complaint that was recently served upon you so you are not defaulted by plaintiff.

I suggest that you try and work out a written settlement agreement with the plaintiff where you pay what you seem to owe over a period of time in an amount that you can afford.

Assuming you file our answer to the complaint timely, the court will set a trial date. Before the trial date, most likely there will be a date where you can try and settle the matter without having to try the case. If you actually have to try the case and a judgment is rendered against you, the judgment creditor can then levy on your bank accounts or garnish your wages to get paid the amount of the award.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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