December 2, 2023

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection

Receiving a summons for debt collection can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. However, it is important to remember that you have rights and options when it comes to responding to a summons. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

Step 1: Read the Summons Carefully

The first step when receiving a debt collection summons is to read it carefully. The summons will provide you with important information such as the amount of debt owed, the name of the creditor, and the court where the lawsuit was filed. It is essential that you take the time to understand the summons and the allegations made against you.

Step 2: Determine Your Deadline

After reading the summons, you will need to determine your deadline for responding. In most cases, you will have between 20 and 30 days to respond. If you fail to respond within the deadline, the court may enter a default judgment against you, which means the creditor will automatically win the case.


Step 3: Seek Legal Advice

If you are unsure how to respond to the summons, it is recommended that you seek legal advice. A debt collection attorney can review your case and help you understand your options. While hiring a lawyer can be expensive, it is often worth the cost to ensure that your rights are protected.

Step 4: Choose Your Response

When responding to a summons for debt collection, you have several options. You can choose to:

  • Admit to the debt and pay it in full
  • Negotiate a payment plan with the creditor
  • Dispute the debt if you believe it is not valid
  • File for bankruptcy

Each option has its own pros and cons, and it is important to carefully consider your situation before making a decision.

Step 5: Draft Your Response

If you choose to dispute the debt or negotiate a payment plan, you will need to draft a response to the summons. Your response should be in writing and include:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the court
  • The case number
  • Your response to the allegations made in the summons
  • Your defense, if any
  • Any counterclaims or cross-claims you may have

It is important to be concise and to the point in your response. If you have hired an attorney, they can help you draft a response that is legally sound and persuasive.

Step 6: File Your Response

Once you have drafted your response, you will need to file it with the court and serve a copy to the creditor’s attorney. You can do this by mail or in person. It is important to make sure that you file your response before the deadline, as failing to do so can result in a default judgment.

Step 7: Attend the Hearing

After you have filed your response, the court will schedule a hearing. It is important to attend the hearing, as failing to do so can result in a default judgment. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case and defend yourself against the allegations made by the creditor.


Receiving a summons for debt collection can be a daunting experience. However, by following these steps, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you have the best chance of a favorable outcome. Remember to read the summons carefully, seek legal advice if necessary, and choose the response that is best for your situation. With the right approach, you can successfully answer a summons for debt collection.

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