When you receive a summons from debt collector regarding credit card debt, you might be uncertain about the appropriate way to react. The summons may have been initiated by a legitimate credit card company or an aggressive junk debt buyer. Whatever the case, you need to make a legally sound response to avoid trouble with the courts.
1. Review the Complaint and The Summon
You should review the summon and look out for important details including:
• if it is the original creditor who has filed the complaint
• if the suit has been filed by a third party with a legal claim to the debt
• the court deadline for a response
• if the original contract signed with the creditor is attached to the complaint
2. Calculate the Deadline for Filing A Response
The court deadline depends on whether you have been officially served or not.
If you have been served with an official Citation and Petition:
• The deadline is 14-20 days, including weekends and public holidays.
• Failing to file an answer gives the plaintiff the right to finish the case under Default Judgment.
• To determine if the plaintiff has finished the case, call the relevant district clerk and ask if the court has signed a final order on your case. If the final order is not signed, your case is pending, and you can file a late answer.
• If the case is finished, seek legal advice immediately.
If you were not officially served:
• There no deadline, but you can file your answer after the plaintiff files the Petition.
• The 20-day deadline applies to district and county courts. Some courts have shorter deadlines:
• Cases filed in justice courts (except eviction cases) must be answered within 14 days.
• The deadline for eviction cases is 7-10 days and is written on the citation. However, some courts require you to appear in court on the specified date instead of answering.
3. Draft A Response to The Complaint
Typically, the pleading form contains a list of allegations the creditor has made against you. The court requires you to respond to every allegation to safeguard your rights. If you fail to respond to any of the allegations, the court will assume that you admit responsibility.
You can respond to the allegation with one of the following responses:
• Admit– concede that the allegation is valid
• Deny– argue that the allegation is not accurate
• Lack of knowledge– you do not have sufficient information to deny or admit the allegations
You can use affirmative defenses instead of or in place of the responses. They include:
Statutes of Limitations- argue that the claim was filed after the statutory limit on debt collection had expired.
Lack of Privity– argue there is no contractual relationship between you and the plaintiff. This defense is often used against debt collection agencies.
Fraudulent or Invalid Assignment of Debt– claim that the process used to transfer the debt obligations to the third party was procedurally flawed.
Completing the Answer Form
You are the defendant and are only supposed to fill on the defendant’s side.
• Affirmative Defenses: affirmative defenses provide new information that can help you win the case.
• Verified Pleas: this section requires you to confirm that the details provided by the plaintiff are true and correct. It is advisable to consult a lawyer when filling out this section.
• Certificate of Service: fill this form to confirm that you will give the plaintiff a copy of your answer.
• Print and Sign the Form: sign your name and indicate the date.
4. File the Answer Form
• File the answer form on E-File Texas by following the instructions on the website or
• File in person by taking the form to the district clerk’s office in the relevant county. The clerk will retain the original and give you copies.
5. Serve Copies to The Plaintiff
You should send copies of all the documents filed with the court to the plaintiff and keep copies for record. Make sure that the documents sent to the plaintiff are:
• sent through certified mail
• include a certificate of service
If you have received Court Summons for Credit Card Debt, contact us for legal advice. We serve clients for credit card and debt lawsuits throughout the entire state of Texas.