How do I respond to a summons for bad credit card debt? 15 Answers as of July 02, 2012

I received a summons to appear in small claims court on Wednesday, June 20th at 10:00am. They sent it to my mom's address, where I used to live, and I didn't receive it right away. I am being sued for bad credit card debt. I stopped paying on all my credit cards in 2006 due to my illness. The plaintiff demands judgement for $2,536.81. It's going to be difficult for me to even appear in court and I don't know how to defend myself. What I do know is that I don't have any money. I'm on medical leave from work and I will start receiving a small short term disability payment (about $775 I think, $400 more than my rent) in about a month. I want to file bankruptcy, I have other bad credit card debt and medical bills that I can't pay, but I can't afford to pay an attorney and there isn't enough time between now and my hearing. What should I do?

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Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
You'll need to answer the complaint. Try and settle if possible.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/2/2012
Burton Green, Attorney | Burton Green
This forum is limited to answering bankruptcy questions. You would stop this creditor's attempt to collect this debt by filing bankruptcy. Many bankruptcy attorneys provide free consultations. Find one and discuss your situation. Appear in court on the 20th as your creditor will get a default judgment against you if you do not appear. Your bankruptcy will wipe out the judgment when you file.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 6/28/2012
Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
There is a statute of limitations of 4 years. This is a defense that you can raise in the hearing. If you lose the case you can still file bankruptcy and include the judgment. If you cannot afford an attorney there are clinics in some areas to help. You can file your own bankruptcy, however, have an attorney review the papers before filing them.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/28/2012
Olson Law Firm | Edward M Olson
You need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. It is fair to assume that you will have to pay some money to get out of debt (either to the creditor or to your attorney).
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/27/2012
Attorney At Law | Harry D. Roth
You have two problems, one short term and the other long term. You asked about both. The short term problem is that you have small claims court in a couple of days. Call the clerk of the court. Tell the clerk that you did not receive the notice until a few days ago and that you are ill and cannot travel. Ask for the case to be put over for about 60 days. If they say "no", then don't sweat it. Here is why. Even after there is a court judgment against you, there is nothing they can do. No-one can touch your disability. Ever. Until or unless you go back to work or win the Lotto or inherit a large sum, not even a judgment creditor can take anything from you. And think about it. They don't know where you are. If they did, they would have sent the papers to your correct address. They know nothing about you. Sure, they can get a judgment and, as my mother used to say, that and a token will get you on the subway. It sounds as though you should file bankruptcy, for all the reasons you said. But you need not be in a rush. Most bankruptcy attorneys will give you a consultation for free. You already know you need to file. You need to know the cost and you can figure out how long it will take you to set that much aside. If the bankruptcy attorney doesn't want to do anything until he is paid in full, not even give you advice on how to deal with the leaches and vampires who work for the collections business, then go chat with another one. The key to remember is that there is nothing they can take from you now. You should file, but you should not panic. If you start to panic, remember there is nothing they can take from you now.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/27/2012
    Barbara Fontaine, Esquire | Barbara Fontaine
    Be sure to go to court on June 20th. Tell the judge why you cannot pay now, and that you are on medical leave. This will definitely help. It is never as bad when you go and tell your side. Go and good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    You need to file bankruptcy to get rid of all of the credit card and medical bill debt. It would be best if you went to the hearing in the small claims court. Your defense is that there is a 5 year statute of limitations here in Florida and it has been more than five years since you defaulted. If that does not work you can rest assured that there is a way to get judgments against you wiped off the slate. The filing fee for bankruptcy is $306, and a reasonable attorneys fee is around $1200. Do not think that a bankruptcy petition preparer can do anything near what an experienced attorney can do. They charge a lot less but they cannot legally give you any legal advice whatsoever. So, save up to hire a bankruptcy attorney and find one in your area who will take payments. The real question to you is whether it is worth approximately $1500 to get out of $insert total amount you owe here. The answer is always yes. You will undoubtedly qualify to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy because you will be making less than $40,000 per year on disability. You can go to my website and download a pamphlet I have written about Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. I hope this has helped you.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    Alvin Lundgren | Alvin Lundgren
    If you have no defense to the lawsuit, you do not need to appea, but a judgment will issue against you. You should talk to an attorney about filing bankruptcy. You may call for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc.
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc. | Kevin Ryan
    Call a lawyer about filing Chapter 13. All attorney fees can be put into the plan and you will only need the court filing fee.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    Weber & Phillips, P.A.
    Weber & Phillips, P.A. | John G. Phillips
    If you are unable to afford an attorney, there is likely a legal services organization that can hook you up with an attorney on a pro bono basis. My office usually takes about 12 or more a year on a pro bono basis from our local legal services. You do have to meet certain restricted income levels to qualify, but it sounds like you might. If you don't know how to find legal services in your area, contact the State bar organization and they can likely tell you.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    The Stockman Law Office | Mary Stockman Esq.
    You have 20 days to answer a lawsuit. The creditor will get a judgment.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    If it is a small claim suit, you normally don't have to file a response you can just respond. The documents you received will tell you if you need to file anything, which at this state will be difficult so I recommend you just go. Tell them you plan on filing for bankruptcy. If you don't have the money to hire someone for the bankruptcy, you can file on your own.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    Moore Taylor Law Firm, P.A.
    Moore Taylor Law Firm, P.A. | Jane Downey
    If you want to answer, at least write a letter and plan to attend court. Otherwise, you can try to settle the debt by calling the plaintiff or attorney or getting your own attorney. Finally, you may not care if you have a judgment against you. You may be judgment proof.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    The Martin Law Group
    The Martin Law Group | Yolvondra Martin-Brown
    It is best if you can file bankruptcy prior to the hearing date on the 20th. This will stop the proceedings on the 20th. Prior to filing bankruptcy, you will need to take a credit counseling course from an approved agency. Some attorneys will reduce their fee based on the client's income.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/27/2012
    Law Office of Pho Ethan Tran PLLC
    Law Office of Pho Ethan Tran PLLC | Pho Ethan Tran
    You should file for bankruptcy immediately if there is no hope that your situation will change. Even if you don't appear in court and the bank wins the lawsuit, you can still file for bankruptcy protection later on.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/27/2012
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