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can you get a summons dismissed by attending court for credit card debt

Can you get a summons dismissed by attending court for credit card debt? In short, yes, you can get a credit card summons dismissed just by attending court. However, there’s no guarantee that a credit card summons will get dismissed just by showing up at court.

Nevertheless, you can better your chances of getting a more favorable resolution when fighting a credit card lawsuit by following the advice we’re about to share. We also provide tips on negotiating a settlement on a credit card summons using psychological principles to improve your ability to influence the collection agency and judge.

Concepcion Gutierrez, a certified credit counselor at Golden Financial Services (GFS), stated, “Most debt will get dismissed if you show up to court. But be prepared. Give the judge a hardship letter explaining why you fell behind on the debt and proof of income illustrating your inability to pay the debt back. The court will then, at the very least, offer you a debt reduction plan, assigning a smaller payment on your behalf. Or best case scenario, the collection agency or law firm skips court, and the summons and debt all get dismissed.”

Debt relief programs include lawsuit defense:

Consider a debt relief program if you haven’t been sued yet or have multiple credit card bills that you can’t afford to pay in full.

Debt relief programs include lawsuit defense to help you fight and resolve a summons if one is received while enrolled in the program.

What is lawsuit defense?

Lawsuit defense is when an attorney attempts to resolve a summons before the court date by negotiating a settlement on the debt or using legal violations to challenge the debt’s validity. 

Consequently, the debt ends up getting settled for less than the entire balance, or an attorney will use any legal violations to fight the debt to get it dismissed. 

Don’t skip court:

Hands down, the worst action a person can take after receiving a summons to go to court over credit card debt is to skip court. You see, creditors issue a summons over credit card debt because they realize many consumers will skip court.

If you skip court, you automatically lose the case. Creditors want you to miss court. 

If you skip court over a credit card summons, creditors can get a default judgment. A default judgment allows creditors to garnish wages, freeze bank accounts, and take property. 

90% of debt collection lawsuits are flawed, inaccurate, or have missing documentation:

Creditors are sloppy throughout the entire process of suing consumers over credit card debt because they’re not only dealing with you, they’re dealing with thousands of consumers at a time.

And because creditors deal in such large volume when it comes to issuing lawsuits over credit card debt, their process involves automatically spinning out lawsuits through a computerized program and Robo-signing documents without properly reviewing them for accuracy. 

One Brooklyn judge estimated that over ninety percent of credit card lawsuits are filled with inaccurate information and could get dismissed. 

Example of a debt collection company that had to stop collection on $128 million in debt due to fraudulently issued lawsuits:  

“Encore (Midland Funding) and Virginia-based Portfolio Recovery Associates must refund approximately $60 million to consumers and immediately stop all collection activity on $128 million in existing debts after an action filed by federal regulators.”

Both debt collection agencies were accused of ” pressuring consumers with false statements and churning out lawsuits using Robo-signed court documents.” 

How to capitalize on the debt collector’s flaws:

First off, thoroughly review the entire summons for any information that is inaccurate. If you find erroneous information, notate or highlight it and gather whatever proof is required to prove your claim. You will then appear at court and present the evidence and state your case to the judge. 

There is a good chance your creditor won’t show up at court, and you’ll automatically win the case. If your creditor shows up and you can produce proof of the inaccurate information, that could result in the case being dismissed. 

“Also, remember to bring documentation illustrating any financial hardship you may have. That financial hardship could result in a debt settlement, allowing you to pay back only a portion of the debt to satisfy the balance in full,” explains California debt settlement company.  

The court may allow you to fulfill paying off the reduced amount over a certain number of months to ensure the payment is affordable. 

What immediate actions should you take after receiving a credit card summons?

Initially, there may not be a court date.

Instead, you will receive a notice of a settlement conference before the trial date.

Or, the paperwork will ask for you to respond to the summons, and in that response, you can state your argument.

There may be a court date in the summons requiring you to show up at court. 

Make sure to abide by whatever the paperwork is asking you to do. Read the summons carefully! 

You can fight a credit card summons and try to get it dismissed. 

Have your creditors violated federal laws? 

  • Review the statute of limitations for that debt in your state. If you suspect the debt has expired the statute of limitations, you can use that information to fight the debt. 
  • Understand the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). For example, if your creditor calls your place of employment after you inform them that you are not allowed to get personal calls at work, that’s a violation under the FDCPA. Likewise, if your creditor calls you at five in the morning, that’s earlier than what’s legally allowed under debt collection rules and is another violation of the FDCPA. If your creditor violates any of your rights under federal laws, you can present these details to the judge at court and get the case dismissed. Visit GoldenFS.org FDCPA archives to learn more about the FDCPA.
  • Look up the debt collection company that is suing you online to find consumer complaints. Inside these complaints, you may find common denominators. In addition, these complaints may give you ideas for fighting your lawsuit. Knowledge is power. 
  • Dispute the amount creditors claim you owe. If you believe unjustified late fees and interest or collection costs have been added to your balance, dispute the debt. After a person falls behind on credit card payments, late fees, collection fees, and all types of unauthorized fees often get added onto the balance that you never agreed to pay in your original credit card agreement. 
  • Negotiate a settlement before the court date, saving money and avoiding court altogether.

Motion to Dismiss

You can ask the court to dismiss the credit card lawsuit by filing a Motion to Dismiss.

When to file a Motion to Dismiss:

  • if the collection agency reports inaccurate information 
  • if you believe the debt has expired past the statute of limitations
  • if unauthorized fees have been added to the balance 
  • if you have proof that the creditor violated a federal law, like the FDCPA 

A Motion to Dismiss must be filed before the deadline date, as illustrated on the summons paperwork. 

Do you need help with $10,000 or more in total credit cards and unsecured debt? Call (866) 376-9846 for a Free Consultation from an experienced debt counselor.

Related blog posts:

Settle the debt before the court date with the debt collection agency. 

Contact the debt collection agency (Plaintiff) suing you.

Let them know that you don’t agree with the amount they claim you owe, but you’re interested in settling the debt before the court date in a mutually beneficial way. 

Let the debt collector know if they don’t settle with you that you’ll go to court and present evidence that the debt and balance are inaccurate or that the collection agency violated the FDCPA.

Tips for negotiating a settlement on a credit card summons to avoid court:

If you find inaccurate information in the lawsuit, tell the collection agency that as part of negotiations – but don’t give specific details.

For example, you could say, “I’ll be presenting evidence to the judge of various pieces of inaccurate information stated in the summons made by your firm.” 

Don’t give the collection agency the exact details of your plan, similar to how you wouldn’t show your cards at the blackjack table before the game was over. 

The point is to scare the collection agency just like they’re trying to scare you. Just keep in mind, their goal is to extract as much profit from you as they possibly can. They don’t care about your financial well-being. 

The 1st offer when negotiating a debt (summons)

Offer the collection agency 20%-30% of the balance as payment in full, but offer to pay the settlement in one lump sum payment. You’re offering an extremely low number to start, but that’s your anchor.

“When negotiating, there is a strong norm that a party should respond to each concession that his or her counterpart makes with a concession of his or her own, even if the initial offer was rather extreme.”

In other words, ask for a lot and back off.

And make sure to use an odd number. According to Columbia University Business School Professor Malia Mason, “Using a precise number signals that you have more knowledge about the value of the good being negotiated.”

Use multiple psychological principles in your negotiations at once, to strengthen your negotiations (examples include: commitment and consistency, reciprocation, scarcity, and social proof). 

You can use commitment and consistency bias after the collection agency agrees to a settlement amount, and then you add in “But part of the deal must include removal of the debt from my credit report.” You can use social proof by illustrating the hundreds of other complaints online about the same situation to enforce your argument.

Express to the collection agency that a family member offered to loan you some money, using the scarcity psychological principle. You only have a certain amount of money available and the collection agency can either accept and get it or reject the offer and not get it.  You can tell the collection agency that you will be forced to file for bankruptcy if they reject your offer. 

Use Odd Numbers:

Don’t use a round number when negotiating. Instead, use an odd number when making an offer, such as “I’m willing to offer you a lump-sum payment of $12,399.08 as payment in full.” 

Using an odd number shows you’ve carefully calculated your offer. 

Debt collection agencies are trained to exploit and take advantage of your emotions

Hide any emotions that you feel, like fear, excitement, and anger.  Meditate before you start negotiating. 

The counteroffer in negotiations:

The collection agency may reject your first offer and make a counteroffer for a settlement of 70%-85%, or even 50%-70% of the balance. Don’t accept this offer right away.

Let the collection agency know; you don’t have the funds available to settle the debt at 50%-70% of the balance. Remind them, you’re borrowing these funds from a family member to fund the settlement due to your limited income. 

Instead, you could ask for a few days to check with family members to see if you can come up with more money. Then come back at them with a higher offer (but lower than what they’re offering), again using an odd number.

Note: If you agree to a deal, GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING.

A debt settlement plan over monthly payments:

You could accept a higher settlement amount if the collection agency is willing to do the settlement over a certain number of monthly payments.

For example, you may accept six monthly payments of $5,000 to settle a $50,000 debt, but you don’t have the funds to pay it all at once. 

The faster you pay the debt, the better the settlement offer should be.

Settle a summons for less and request removal of the debt from your credit report:

Make sure part of the deal is to remove the debt from your credit report because otherwise, your credit score won’t improve. 

Debt collection companies often don’t want to remove the debt from your credit report because that’s extra work for them.

Perhaps, worst-case scenario, they will agree not to respond if you dispute the debt from your credit report, automatically resulting in the removal of the debt collection account from your credit. To learn how to dispute a debt from your credit report, check out this blog post next.

Settlement averages for a summons:

Settlements on a credit card summons average at around 65%-80% of the balance, according to GFS. “We’ve seen thousands of accounts with a summons get settled and that’s how we’re able to provide this stat.” You could copy this paragraph and use it when negotiating as a form of social proof.

Can creditors get a default judgment and freeze funds over credit card debt? 

After a creditor gets a default judgment, they can freeze your bank account, take your property or garnish your wages, all of which are the absolute worst outcome for you. On top of that, judgments on your credit report destroy your credit score and creditworthiness and can remain on credit reports for up to twenty years. 

I am not an attorney, and each state has its own set of laws. For legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice law in your state. 

Get a free consultation from GFS if you can’t afford your credit card payments before you get a summons.

If you have credit card debt that you can’t afford to pay, contact GFS today. Take action now, before you get sued. Debt resolution programs can start by disputing the validity of each debt, forcing creditors to prove that they are legally authorized to collect on a debt.

In many cases, debt gets invalidated and removed from credit reports within 24-36 months of being on the program. Understand the pros and cons of debt relief programs by visiting this page next.

Sources:

Psychological Principles in Negotiating Civil Settlements, UCLA, http://personal.anderson.ucla.edu/policy.area/faculty/fox/hnlr99.pdf

Victoria Pynchon, a Female Negotiator Consultant, Linkedin, https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoriapynchon/

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