So you’ve been sued over a credit card debt. Maybe the original creditor—the bank, such as Discover Bank, American Express, Bank of America, or Capital One—is suing you. Maybe a debt buyer is suing you—such as Midland Funding, Portfolio Recovery, LVNV, CACH, Cavalry SPV, Unifund CCR, Asset Acceptance.
So now what?
Answer Within 30 Days of Service
First, you must answer the lawsuit within 30-days of service. To do this, you have to go down to the clerk of court and file an Answer. The Clerk can help you file the Answer, but the Clerk cannot tell you how to write the Answer (or give you legal advice).
You can learn about how to Answer a credit card lawsuit, either in How to Answer a Credit Card Lawsuit in Magistrate Courtor elsewhere, on this website. All of our posts on Answering credit card lawsuit can be found here: How to Answer Credit Card Lawsuits in Georgia.
What does “Service” of the Lawsuit Mean?
You are “served” with a lawsuit when someone brings you the lawsuit in person. You should receive a copy of the Summons as well as the Statement of Claim or Complaint.
The Summons tells you who is suing you, the case number, the Court information, the deadline for answering (30 days), and other information about what you should now do.
The Statement of Claim or Complaint is the actual lawsuit—it should tell you the grounds for the lawsuit (why they are suing you) as well as the amount they are claiming you owe them.
Service Cannot Be Done Through The Mail
You cannot be served through the mail. Someone must come and hand deliver the lawsuit to you, or to someone living in your house. (A room mate, spouse, or even a teenage son or daughter can count.)
Service Cannot Be Done By Leaving It On Your Front Door
You cannot be served by someone posting your lawsuit on your front door. The exception is if you are home, come to the door, the service processor says they are serving you, and you refuse to open the door. BUT, if you come home and a document is attached to your door, then that is NOT sufficient service.
The Service Processor Is Not Required To Get Your Signature
A service processor, the person serving you, is not required to get your signature. They can ask you name, hand you the lawsuit, and then walk away. This is sufficient service.
If you refuse to accept the lawsuit in your hand, they can drop it at your feet, and this is sufficient service.
Service Processors May Be Sheriff’s Deputies or Other Individuals
Service of lawsuits is the job of the County Sheriff in most Georgia counties. Many Plaintiffs us Sheriff’s deputies to serve their lawsuits.
However, in debt collection cases like credit card lawsuits, many debt collection firms have their own process servers they hire to serve lawsuits. These folks are not necessarily sheriff’s deputies, and may not be in uniform.
What Happens After Filing An Answer in a Credit Card Lawsuit?
Depending on the court in which your lawsuit is filed, you may be given either a hearing date for your case or a mediation date.
For example, in Gwinnett County and DeKalb County magistrate courts, you will likely receive a hearing date between 3 and 6 weeks from the date you file your Answer. These hearings are typically on Thursday evenings at 6:30 or 6.
In Fulton County magistrate court, however, you may receive a notice of mediation. These mediations can happen on different dates and times.
READ YOUR COURT NOTICES CAREFULLY!
Check the time of the hearing. Look at the Courtroom number. Make sure you know WHERE the Courthouse is located. (In some counties, the Magistrate, State, and Superior courts are in the same building, in connected buildings, or nearby each other, BUT in some counties the courthouses can be in altogether different locations.)
If you are not Experienced Credit Card Lawsuit Attorneys, then you need to make sure you can appear at your hearing.
What Can I Expect At A Hearing?
If you filed an Answer, then you are going to have a contested hearing. Read our guide to trials in Georgia Magistrate Courts on contested hearings.
Briefly, the issues you need to look for are as follows:
- Did the Plaintiff bring a witness?
- If no witness, do they have an Affidavit?
- If an affidavit, did they mail it to you prior to the hearing?
- Who made the records?
- If this is a debt buyer case, does the assignment show your name or account number on the assignment documents? Or does it show it in a separate, redacted document created by the Plaintiff just for this lawsuit?
- Are the amounts correct?
- Is the interest rate they’re applying correct?
- Did you receive the statements?
A longer and more detailed guide to Georgia magistrate court trials in credit card lawsuit cases can provide more detail. We highly suggest you read through our guide if you have more questions, or speak to an experience credit card lawsuit attorney to find out what we can do for you.