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I have been sued by a debt collector, what is the first step to take?

Vallejo, CA |

just receveived a Summons, that i have been served by debt collector. What is the first step to take? this is the first time i am in a situation like this. Do i go to the court?

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Attorney answers 3


First step for you or the creditor? For you, you should make some long-term decisions. If you have a defense, then you may want to file an answer. If you don't have a defense, then you should explore your long-term objectives, and made choices based on that.

If you just need to buy time, then filing an answer can do that. However, if time isn't really the issue, then sometimes you are better off not incurring a filing fee, and instead having the debt convert to judgment as the applicable interest rate is usually less on judgments. Of course, wage garnishment and other lien attachments become an issue once a judgment is entered.

If you would like to discuss a long-term strategy, and possible resolutions through bankruptcy or non-bankruptcy work-outs, let me know.

Do not make a decision that could impact your income on a quick internet question, and quick answer. You should fully discuss with an attorney before proceeding.


If you have been served with a summons and complaint in a lawsuit in California, the following are steps to take. For superior court lawsuits, you have 30 days from the date of personal service to respond.

If the summons and complaint were not properly served on you, either in person or via substituted service, you may wish to consider filing a motion to quash service of summons. This is a "special appearance" to challenge personal jurisdiction. Such motions are often disfavored in California because the plaintiff can usually simply re-serve the summons.

There are a variety of possible legal responses to a Complaint. The most common is to file either an Answer or General Denial. The form for the Answer is (Judicial Council Form PLD-C-010):

The form for the General Denial is (Judicial Council Form PLD-050):

Alternatively, a "demurrer" is often used to challenge the sufficiency of one or more causes of action in a plaintiff's complaint. A motion to strike pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 435, and § 436(a) is used to strike whole or part of complaint, or any irrelevant, false, or improper matter inserted in any pleading.

There is a first appearance filing fee in connection with filing an Answer or General Denial. If you cannot afford the first appearance filing fee, you may apply for a fee waiver. See:

But the best advice is to hire your own attorney, since Avvo isn't a substitute for getting your own attorney.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

Eric Sapir

Eric Sapir


Well said. Excellent response.


You need to hire an experienced debt collection attorney to assist you with fili ham answer, serving discovery and negotiating a settlement.

I handle these cases all the time throughout the bay area, how much are you being sued for and by whom?

Kevin Samuel Sullivan

Kevin Samuel Sullivan


Kevin Sullivan 415-441-1052

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