If you answer the door and are handed a summons, there are some things you must do:
#1 DON'T PANIC!
If you don't read the summons carefully, it seems like it says that you have 20-30 days before you have to go to court. But this is absolutely NOT TRUE!
The summons is stating that you have a brief time period to file an ANSWER. This is a formal denial of that you owe the debt. In most cases, the DEFENDANT (that's you) doesn't need to file an "answer" as you do owe the debt. But if you feel that you have repaid the debt or that the debt does not belong to you, by all means file an "answer".
It may cost you a hundred bucks or so, but that is just the cost of the court. You will want to contact your court to find out what you should do. In very rare cases, you may need to hire an attorney to help.
After the collectors called and called and called, (Click HERE to learn HOW TO STOP THE CALLS), they may decide to FILE A CLAIM against you...hence the summons. Which brings us to...
#2 DON'T IGNORE THE SUMMONS!
We had a client that received a summons several months ago and did not tell us about it. She called the other day to say that her wages were going to be garnished and "what can you do about it?"
In most cases, there is not much that can be done once a Writ of Garnishment is issued. A WRIT OF GARNISHMENT is issued after the creditor or PLAINTIFF, wins a DEFAULT JUDGMENT.
Since we had no idea about the summons and subsequent legal procedure that led to the award of the judgment, we were in a bind!
Once the Writ of Garnishment is issued in most states, 25% of your net (after tax) income will be withheld by your employer! For most people, this would be FINANCIALLY DEVESTATING!
Let's say you make $18 an hour. That's about $3,000 a month gross earnings. If your employer withholds normal income taxes, that would mean your take home would be about $2250.
A garnishment of 25% would be about $562.50! If it's hard to make ends meet now, how could you do it with $562 less?
If she had contacted us about the summons as soon as she received it, we most likely would have negotiated either a settlement (maybe 50% or so of the balance) or a Stipulated Agreement, whereby she would repay the debt (often at a slightly reduced balance) with a monthly payment her budget could handle.
In some case the creditor will accept a stipulated agreement AFTER a judgment is awarded, but not always. Unfortunately, although her creditor was willing to take a little less that the $562.50, she could not afford it and she was forced to seek a bankruptcy attorney's services!
#3 REMEMBER THESE IMPORTANT STEPS!
- DON'T IGNORE A SUMMONS
- CONTACT THE ATTORNEY FOR THE CREDITOR/PLAINTIFF IMMEDIATELY
- OFFER A REDUCED SETTLEMENT AMOUNT OR
- OFFER TO REPAY AT AN AMOUNT YOUR BUDGET WILL ALLOW
If you have receive a summons and are still not sure what to do, WE CAN HELP. Give us a call AT 1-877-492-4109 OR click the link below!