First off, always open a letter from a creditor. Never ignore it because you don’t want to face the bad news.
If the letter is a summons to court, don’t make the biggest mistake of your life by not showing up! This is so important, and here’s why…
The vast majority of the time, if you show up and say the magic words, the entire case will be dropped and YOU WILL PAY NOTHING.
But if you don’t show up, then the creditor automatically wins, and then they have the right to claw money right out of your paycheck and/or claw money right out of your bank account. You won’t find out until pay day when you see that your check is not enough to live on. And it gets worse…
The creditor typically adds attorney fees and interest to the balance — plunging you even further into debt!
And to think that you could have paid $0 if only you’d shown up in court and said the magic words.
One study shows that 90% of people who receive a summons never show up. Maybe they didn’t open the letter. Maybe they were “busy.” Maybe they’d given up hope. Listen, my friends, don’t let that be YOU.
Show up. Wear your nicest business attire. A button down shirt, slacks, a skirt or dress, a business jacket if you’ve got one. Your best shoes. No tee shirts and flip flops. Present yourself like a financially responsible person.
When it’s your turn to speak, say these magic words: “Prove the case.” That’s right, it’s as simple as that.
I would phrase it like this: “Your Honor, I don’t believe I owe $3,495 (or whatever they’re alleging you owe). I would like for them to prove the case with the original documentation and a detailed explanation of how they got that balance.”
If you think you might be too nervous (or intimated) to remember that, write it down ahead of time and read it when you get there.
The overwhelming chances are that the representative showing up in court will not have proper documentation. Did you get that? Almost every time, at that point, the case against the debtor is dropped.
Just think, instead of owing $3,495 + $500 attorney fees + 24% interest, you could owe NOTHING.
I am sick and tired of hearing stories about good people who lost their jobs, had a medical emergency, are working for minimum wage while trying to take care of their children, and then got intimidated by a greedy creditor who doubled what they owe– supposedly — without ever showing the proper paperwork to prove it. And don’t get me started today about how they paid one penny on the dollar to buy the debt!
There is no reason why they can’t offer you a deep discount/settlement and still make a profit.
So again, don’t let that letter go unopened. And don’t fail to show up in court if you receive a summons.
Thank you for reading! If you’d like to pick up a copy of Repair Your Credit Like the Pros, you can find it here.
5 thoughts on “When a Creditor Sends You a Summons”
Good information! With help from you’re book, I’m no longer in this situation. I am however dealing with a different situation. A creditor wrote off a debt and informed me that I needed to claim it as income on my taxes. Am I still responsible for the debt?
LaMar, great to hear about your credit and financial success! I am not a CPA or licensed tax advisor, so I am not allowed to give tax advice. You can probably get free tax advice by calling a local CPA or tax company with a quick question over the phone.
As for the debt, I have no knowledge of what type of debt it is, how old it is, who or what type of creditor it is, or what they might have agreed to. You can always call them and ask.
Thanks for the response. I believe one of my colleagues is a part-time CPA. I’ll ask him and see what he says. Thanks as always and I can’t wait for your new book to arrive in the mail.
Thank you for all the helpful information. Have you ever seen a circumstance where a creditor deliberately sends something to the wrong address to win a judgement by default? Or, if same creditor violates a 92′ bankruptcy injunction, and the discharged debtor isn’t notified and doesn’t find out about it for umpteen years because they moved on? It seems like consumers have no recourse if creditors work in secrecy. My friend who experienced this is feeling a bit lost.
I have not seen that circumstance. If a creditor violates the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act of 2018, then the consumer has recourse. The consumer can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Look at this article from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: