What is a Credit Card Summons?

Pablo Garcia

A credit card summons is a type of legal summons in a civil case. The summons means that a credit card company or a collection agency has filed a civil suit in order collect an unpaid credit card debt. The document itself “summons” the recipient to appear in court and answer the lawsuit.

A credit card summons is the result of a person falling into credit card debt.
A credit card summons is the result of a person falling into credit card debt.

A county sheriff’s deputy or process server serves the credit card summons in person. A copy of the “complaint” filed with the court is attached to the summons. The complaint is a document setting out the nature of the lawsuit. It lists the parties to the action and sets out the reasons the lawsuit is being filed. It also contains a “prayer for relief,” asking that the court enter a judgment ordering that the credit card debt be paid.

Legal summons are often delivered by a sheriff or deputy.
Legal summons are often delivered by a sheriff or deputy.

Usually, the complaint will contain a series of numbered “allegations.” The paragraphs contain descriptions of who the parties are, what the case is about, and why money is owed to the credit card company. It might also contain a brief statement about attempts to collect the debt.

A mediator may help debtors reach payment agreements with their creditors before they go to court.
A mediator may help debtors reach payment agreements with their creditors before they go to court.

Anyone receiving a credit card summons and complaint should consult an attorney if possible. If hiring an attorney is not feasible, legal aid offices offer advice and assistance to people who cannot afford a lawyer. When legal advice is not available, a person can file an answer pro se, “in his own behalf.”

The answer can be typed on a personal computer, a typewriter or written by hand. The important thing is to answer the complaint. Each paragraph in the complaint can usually be answered by admitting or denying that the information in the paragraph is true. If there is uncertainty about the answer, stating that the information is neither admitted or denied can serve as the answer.

The credit card summons will contain the date and time to appear in court in response to the complaint. The time in which to do so can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in the US. It is very important to appear in court on the scheduled date. If you are not present on the court date, the judge may enter a “default judgment.” Essentially, the credit card company will be granted the relief it requested, and a judgment will be entered for the amount the credit card company says is owed.

Another benefit to answering the complaint and appearing in court is that it presents an opportunity to meet with the attorney for the credit card company or collection agency. It is also a chance to explain any circumstances as to why the debt is unpaid. This might result in a “settlement” of the case through the arrangement of a payment plan.

If a defendant is unable to appear in court for a summons, he or she must file for a continuance in a timely manner.
If a defendant is unable to appear in court for a summons, he or she must file for a continuance in a timely manner.

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