What to Do When You are Being Sued for Arizona Credit Card Debt
If a credit card owner has incurred considerable amounts of unpaid bills, the bank or the card agency has the right to sue the cardholder also known as the ‘debtor’. If you are being sued for credit card debt in Arizona, you will first be served a “summons” for a state or federal court case. When you receive the initial notification for summons, the important thing is not to panic. Credit card debt lawsuits go through several phases and there are plenty of ways you can defend yourself effectively with the right attorney. Breathe deeply and relax.
Immediate Action Following Summons
When you have received a summons to court over a credit card debt lawsuit, don’t delay taking action. Most of all, do not ignore the summons. If you do, the suing party (the bank most likely) can obtain a judgment against you in your absence. By ignoring the case, you will not be able to argue your case in front of a judge. The judgment against you could allow the creditor to infiltrate your wages or savings to use as payment towards the credit card debt. Therefore, don’t wait to respond to the summons. Even if you owe all of the money, you should respond in writing to the court.
If you were served the summons within the state of Arizona, you will be given 20 days to respond. If the summons were served when you were out of state, then you get 30 days to respond. Hire a bankruptcy attorney in Scottsdale during this time to file your case without missing the deadline.
How to Respond to Summons
Once you have an attorney, he or she will guide you through the process of responding to the summons appropriately. There’s a misunderstanding that responding to the summons means showing up in court on the given date. In fact, Arizona law requires defendants in debt cases to file a written response. You must write to the court before the deadline to avoid a default judgment as described above.
How Long will the Case Go On?
This depends on where the lawsuit is filed. In Arizona, there are two types of courts that handle debt-related lawsuits: the Justice Court and the Superior Court. Lawsuits for disputed amounts less than $10,000 go to the Justice Court while anything more than this will be taken to the Superior Court.
Justice Court is a small claims court where the lawsuits tend to move faster. Due to this reason, some creditors file lawsuits stating a limit of $10,000 but without including the interest and other costs. Lawsuits filed in the Superior Court can be complex so trials take longer to conclude. It’s worthwhile to check whether the creditor has filed the case in the right court as part of your defense strategy.
Formulating the Defense Strategy
There are several ways an experienced defense attorney can approach a debt collection lawsuit. Even if the case goes to trial, your lawyer can negotiate with the creditor for a debt settlement. The settlement may involve trying to reduce the total amount owed. If the debt is overwhelming, you might have to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, in which case a court may discharge credit card debt. This is not the ideal scenario for a creditor, so the settlement is always an option.
A skilled attorney would also consider more technical aspects of the lawsuit that may offer you relief. For example, an attorney may check whether the summons for the trial was properly served. Other aspects, such as double-checking documentation the creditor provides, will be part of the defense strategy aimed at getting you the best outcome.