Answering a Debt Collection Summons

Receiving a summons for debt collection out of the blue can be quite a shock. But it should shock you into action, not panic and inaction. This process can be complicated. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation.

You need to respond to the summons and the complaint as soon as possible to avoid further financial and legal headaches.

The debt collection summons is composed of the following legal documents:

  1. A summons which is a document that informs you that you are being sued and what is expected of you in relation to the lawsuit. It also contains the deadline for the submission of your response to the court.
  2. A complaint is the document detailing the allegation the complainant (the creditor) filed against you the defendant.
  3. An answer in Florida must be filed by the defendant as a formal response to the allegations.

You simply cannot ignore a summons. It will not stop the court or the plaintiff from taking further action. It would more than likely result in you not getting notifications of future proceedings. Further inaction can result in debt garnishment among other financial difficulties. You will most assuredly lose the lawsuit if you fail to appear in court.

Steps to follow in responding to debt collection summons

  • First of all, you need to read the complaint thoroughly to determine what sort of relief the creditor is seeking. You can usually at least understand what they are accusing you of not having paid without the assistance of an attorney.
  • The next step is for you to prepare your response as to whether you feel you owe the alleged debt or not. In writing your answer, make sure your answer is written in short and plain terms. Follow the setup of the complaint while writing your response. Start by copying the heading – the court, its jurisdiction, name of the plaintiff and defendant, court division (Florida) and case number. Use a standard-size paper. You should state that you “admit” or “deny” each numbered allegation or you can state that you “lack knowledge of the validity of each statement contained in the complaint and deny” the allegation.
  • What if part of the statement is true and part is not? Then admit the part that is true and state that the rest are not true. If you have any legal defense, they should come under this section. Remember to sign above your name and include date and your address.
  • Make 2 copies, keep one for your own records and mail the other copy to the Plaintiff. You must complete a certificate of service to tell the court that you did send the Plaintiff a copy of your answer.

Defenses you can raise in your Answer (affirmative defenses)

  • Statute of limitations: you assert that the acceptable time frame for the submission of the lawsuit has elapsed and as such, the case should be dismissed.
  • Payment: the debt has been paid off.
  • Fraud.
  • Not naming an important party.

There are many other affirmative defenses you can raise but if they are not raised at the beginning of the case the court may say that you have waived those defenses. Contact our office for help.


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