This is a quick-and-dirty post on how to Answer a credit card lawsuit in Magistrate Court in Georgia. This other post has more information on Answering credit card lawsuits, including State and Superior Court lawsuits, as well as example files — How to Answer a Georgia Credit Card Lawsuit.
Do the Following When Answering A Credit Card Lawsuit In Magistrate Court
- Deny what you can.
- Admit what you cannot deny.
- Do it in writing.
- File the original with the Court.
- Send a copy to the other side.
Deny what you can. You may believe that you owe someone some amount of money. That is fine. However, based on the information provided in the lawsuit, can you categorically admit that you owe the Plaintiff the exact amount of money they claim you owe?
You can deny (1) owing a third-party debt purchaser and (2) the exact amount they claim for a number of reasons. First, if it is not the original creditor, then do they prove in their complaint that they own the debt? To prove this, they have to have a chain of assignment for the debt in writing. This chain of assignment must identify your debt. Often they have Bill of Sale, but don’t include the attachment which identifies the accounts to be sold. Sometimes all they provide is an Affidavit—this is NOT sufficient under Georgia law! An affidavit is not an assignment in writing, and should not be used to prove ownership of a debt. (Although sometimes courts ignore this.) You can learn more about a Plaintiff’s burdens at this post: The Burden of Proof in Georgia Credit Card Lawsuits.
Even if it is the original creditor, do you know if that is the amount you owe? Was interest calculated properly? Were penalty fees properly applied? Are you certain those amounts are accurate? Probably not—a lot typically happens between default and collections. Challenge them to prove the amount using evidence! It is their burden, and it is your right to ask them to do it!
Admit what you cannot deny! If you live at the Address where they claim you live, and if you live in the county in which the lawsuit was filed, then admit that you are subject to the jurisdiction of the court.
Do it in writing! Calling up the Plaintiff or the court to deny the claims is not sufficient. You can often go down to the Magistrate Court and have the Clerks take your statement denying the claim in person—do that if you don’t want to write up a denial! On top of that, they will often mail it to the other side for you!
File the original! You can mail it in to the court, or go in person. If you go to the court in person, they can take your statement denying the claims in person, and often mail a copy to the other side.
Send a copy to the other side! The other side needs to be aware that you are denying the claims. Do this. They have to send you copies of what they file, too.
Don’t Do the Following When Answering A Lawsuit in Magistrate Court
- Don’t ask for a payment plan!
- Don’t say you don’t know how to Answer the claims without also adding “and therefore Plaintiff’s claims are DENIED.”
- Don’t miss your 30-day deadline to Answer!
- Don’t forget to mention if you no longer live in the county in which the lawsuit was filed!
Don’t ask for a payment plan! The court can’t order payment plans. The court can only issue judgments. Payment plans are negotiated with the Plaintiff. If you want to do a payment plan, then file an Answer which DENIES what you can deny. Then contact the Plaintiff and negotiate the settlement with a payment plan.
Don’t say you don’t know! A number of potential clients have told me they learned on the internet that they should neither admit or deny claims. Instead, they should say that they “lack sufficient knowledge to answer” a claim. No! This is not a bad response, but you must then add “and therefore the claim is DENIED.” Be clear about the denial. Otherwise, you are giving the other side room to argue that your Answer is insufficient and ask for it to be stricken.
Don’t miss your 30-day deadline! 8 out of 10 folks don’t answer these lawsuits. I see their names on the “default” calendar when I go to court. Don’t be one of those people! If you Answer, even if you do it poorly, you are still doing better than 80% of the folks who get sued. Don’t get a default judgment against you—Answer the Complaint!
Don’t forget to mention you moved! If you moved out of the county in which the lawsuit was filed, you have a right to be sued in your new home county. Tell the court you no longer live in the county, and ask for the lawsuit to be moved!
Consult An Experienced Credit Card Attorney If You Have Questions
Attorneys who focus on these types of credit card lawsuits are affordable, and your chances of success increase dramatically if you hire one. So contact an experienced credit card attorney if you have questions! Protect your rights, and ensure the other side is forced to prove their case!