Even though the days of debtor’s prison are long gone now, any of your creditors can still take you to court if you have fallen behind on your payments and ignored their letters warning you about what would happen if you did not get in contact with them. You can be served with papers by a law enforcement agent or a process server at your workplace or at your home demanding your appearance in court at any point during the collection process.
However, don’t panic yet. When you think about all of the people who get behind on their credit card payments and realize that they never go to court, you can see that your chances of actually appearing before a judge are quite small. But, you can still receive a summons to go to court, even if it has been several years since you last used the credit card.
It can take the credit card company quite a bit of time as well as money to prepare a court case, so they do not go about this task lightly. First they must locate an attorney in your state who will draw up the paperwork and arrange to have the papers served. This costs money. Once you have been served with the papers, you will have a court date. Before this date, the credit card company has to shell out more money for court representation as well as a filing fee. After doing all of this, the credit card company still has no guarantee that they will get paid, or for that matter, if you will even show up in court.
You have the option of responding to the papers, which normally means that you either send payment in full, which ends the lawsuit, show up on the court date, where you can represent yourself or hire an attorney if you feel you do not owe or should not have to pay what the credit card company says you owe to them, just ignore the fact that you ever even receive the papers, and do nothing at all.
Though it may be tempting to consider, if you are served with papers, do not ignore them! If you do not respond to them in any way, your creditor automatically wins the lawsuit, and can take steps to get the money that is owed to the credit card company. In most, but not all states, your creditor can attempt to place a lien on your house. Or, your creditor can garnishee your wages. Only one creditor can do this at a time, and they cannot take all of your money.
If you do receive a court summons, there are directions included in the pages of the paperwork itself that will outline the steps you need to take in order to answer the summons.
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