You Got Served is the title of a comedy movie that’s definitely considered “old school” by today’s standards, but the phrase “You got served!” also has a chilling effect when applied to the world of law and order. Indeed, if you’ve just been served a court summons by a process server or a sheriff, then you will have a lot of decisions ahead of you.
For example, what happens when you’ve been notified that you’re being sued by the credit card companies? It’s something that no one wants to really deal with. Of course, if you had the money to pay back your debts then it wouldn’t have come to this point. However, life moves in unexpected and often uncertain ways, so you can’t beat yourself up because you didn’t manage to get things handled in the way that you might expect.
Thankfully, there are a few more things that you can do to keep the damage to a minimum. It might seem scary to go against a major corporation or even just a collection agency, but you can overcome and keep your life from falling apart. It’s just a matter of staying focused.
First and foremost, you need to read the summons that you were given. This is the part where a lot of people made their biggest mistake. You don’t want to ignore the summons. You don’t want to just dismiss it, saying to yourself that it doesn’t really matter anyway. Trust us; it definitely matters whether or not you respond to that summons. The clock is ticking the moment that you’ve been served, and if you take too long to answer you will have a default judgment entered in the plaintiff’s favor.
So what you will need to do from here is to make sure that you file what’s called an answer. If you really want to maximize your results, you’ll hire an attorney to at least give you advice on how to proceed. Unfortunately, when you don’t have the money for an attorney, it can feel hopeless. However, there are free legal aid resources to help you. Of course, these are based on income restrictions. If you don’t qualify for that type of legal assistance, then you can actually file an answer on your own. You will need to respond to each claim listed in the complaint against you. Most of the time, you will want to have them prove that you owe the balance that they’re requested the court force you to pay.
The docket number needs to be on your answer, and you will want to have it filed with the clerk’s office immediately.
Now, if the company does have the right amount, you will want to make sure that you negotiate a payment plan that makes sense for your situation. At this point, the credit card company just wants their money. If they can skip over the court costs and time wasted, they will. A judgment can take years to collect, and there are numerous judgments that have been left unpaid.
If the court rules in favor of the collection agency or credit card company, then you will have to pay the debt, plus any other fees presented from the court case. This can be costly, and failure to pay will affect your credit score, as well as running the risk of wage garnishment and even asset seizure.
Remember that collection agencies will use this lawsuit tool as a scare tactic into making you pay them. If you can work things out before it gets to this point, then they will definitely be a lot more reasonable.