Advice about Civil Summons on Credit Card Debt

I was served a civil summons recently for non payment of a credit card, if I file for bankruptcy, will it be revoked?

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Bill's Answer: Resident Expert

If you file for bankruptcy, then all ongoing cases against you will be put on hold. It does not mean that the summons will be revoked; rather it will be put on hold till the bankruptcy court determines if you qualify for chapter 7 or chapter 13. If you qualify for chapter 7, then in all likelihood, this debt will be dismissed along with the other qualifying debts. If you qualify for a chapter 13, even then, the court will decide on the payment terms for that debt. I will discuss more regarding bankruptcy in just a moment. offers advice on how to file for bankruptcy if you chose to take that route.

Quick tip  Concerned about what is appearing on your credit report now? Check your credit report today and get a free score instantly.

Before you decide to file for bankruptcy, I encourage to speak to one of's approved debt help providers, to see what your available options are.

Types of Bankruptcy

There are two basic types of consumer bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also called a liquidation bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee will examine your assets, and if you have any assets which are not exempt, sell those non-exempt assets to repay your creditors. Once your non-exempt assets have been sold to pay your creditors, all remaining unsecured debts will be discharged by the bankruptcy court. Many people who file for Chapter 7 protection are able to keep all of their property because they have no non-exempt property. Each state has its own schedule of exempt assets, so you should consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your state to find out if Chapter 7 is a workable solution for your situation. An attorney will also be able to tell you if you qualify to file Chapter 7 under the new guidelines enacted by Congress in 2005. You mention in your question that you may lose your home in bankruptcy, so it sounds like Chapter 7 was the bankruptcy chapter you discussed with your attorney. There is an alternative, though, in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also called a "wage-earner’s bankruptcy", allows you to propose a plan to repay creditors over time, usually five years. Your monthly payment amount will be based on your monthly disposable income as defined by the bankruptcy code. After you have made payments to your creditors for five years, any remaining unsecured debts will be discharged. Chapter 13 is commonly used by debtors whose assets exceed the exemptions offered by state law. It is also used by many consumer debtors who do not qualify for Chapter 7 relief under the means test, which went into effect in 2005 with the Bankruptcy Reform Act.

Consult with an attorney to find out if bankruptcy will benefit your financial situation. Read more about bankruptcy at the Bankruptcy Information page.

I hope you will be able to resolve your financial problems without the need to file bankruptcy.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.



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Comments (141)

John S.
Tulsa, OK  |  March 13, 2012
What are the charges and the consequences if u r unable to pay the credit card payments which was past due more than 4-5 years old.
March 13, 2012
The article Collections Advice answers your question. It contains links to other resources if you want to drill down deeper into the collections process and consumer liability for delinquent accounts.
Rocky S.
Tulsa, OK  |  March 13, 2012
Thanks for the prompt reply, i would like to know.. i don't have any job neither any assets nor any mortgage and no bank account...have no money not even penny to pay to collectors ..what will be the worst collectors can do?
March 14, 2012
You can still be sued. A judgment can be entered against you. A lien can be filed. If you start working, your wages could be garnished. If you open a bank account, it could be levied. You could receive collection calls and letters. You can't be thrown into jail for having a debt.

So, the worst that can happen right now, based on your description of your income and assets, is that you could receive calls and letters that increasingly become more aggressive. If you feel you are being harassed, read up on your rights under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
John W.
Smyrna, TN  |  March 20, 2012
I am in the same boat and the agency who is summoning me waited until a few months prior to the SOL expiring for credit card debt. I haven't worked, nor own anything nor have a bank account, for 6 years now. Sort of funny they can crawl up every orifice I have to get summons on me but can't tell that I have nothing to give them? Irony at its best. Wonder what they will do when they come up with nothing to seize or garnish? What happens when the 7.5 years lapses for the bad credit debt on my credit report and they have a judgment on me?
March 21, 2012
Think of a credit report as a specialized newspaper. Just because an event does not appear in a newspaper does not mean the event did not occur. Let me put this another way: A credit report is not a legal ledger containing a person's complete list of legal and financial obligations. Sometimes a credit report will contain erroneous information about a debt the person does not owe. Other times a credit report will not contain a large debt the creditor never got around to reporting. Therefore, do not consider a credit report for anything other than it was intended — a tool used for potential creditors to make a guess about a consumer's creditworthiness.

Judgments appear on a credit report for 7½ years from the date the judgment was entered, or the length of the judgment, whichever is longer.

The fact a judgment ages-off a credit report has no relevance to whether it may be used to start a wage garnishment, account levy, or lien.
Rocky S.
Tulsa, OK  |  March 21, 2012
Thanks for your update..i hv gone thru all the phone calls as well the letters from the creditors so i don't worry about all this...the last payment i hv paid in December 2008 to my credit card. I m in Oklahoma n heard that the statute of limitation for open account in Oklahoma is 3 years..n if its true then in my case the statue of limitation is already expired..would you please enlighten me little more what I can do best for this.
March 21, 2012
Rockyh S.
Tulsa, OK  |  March 21, 2012
What is the purpose of this letter? I m gettin letters sometimes but this time i hv received the summon letter and the debt collector submitted petition after 3yrs of my last payment. Do you think i should mention that the statue of limitation has expired ??
March 21, 2012
Sending the creditors a cease-communication letter will cause them to stop communicating with you about the debts. Consumers have a right to be left alone by collections agents under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, a federal law.

The statute of limitations question is a non-issue. Why? A statute of limitations for debt is an affirmative defense used in court. A statute of limitations is not a bar to private collections activities. By private collections activities, I mean calling the debtor on the telephone, sending the debtor letters, and so on. If a creditor filed an action against a debtor, and the state statute of limitations had passed, the debtor/defendant could raise the statute of limitations as a defense. He or she would say something like, "All of what the plaintiff says may be true, but because the plaintiff filed its action after the statute of limitations for this type of contract expired, I ask the court to dismiss this case." The court will look at the dates, and if the defendant/debtor is accurate, the court will dismiss the case.

In some states, such as Wisconsin and Mississippi, the state statute of limitations also prevents an original creditor or collection agent from collecting the debt when the statute of limitations expires. You mentioned Oklahoma, which does not have the expanded rules for its statute of limitations. Therefore, unless the collection agent(s) file a lawsuit against you in Oklahoma, discussing the expired statute of limitations with the collection agents is not helpful.
Adam W.
Nicholasville, KY  |  February 22, 2012
I just received a Civil Summons from Capitol One Bank, who referred the claim to an outside group of attorneys. I obviously did not pay my credit card bill on a card with a $500 max. A very long time ago i attempted to pay the debt but after a few payments I once again stop paying. Now they are claiming that I owe the $1132.75 with an intrest of either 12 or 17 percent (cant read it) per annum until paid in full and I have to pay for all of their attorney fees for coming after me. A local constable from the sheriffs office was kind enough to serve me the papers at my workplace on Feb 18th and I have 20 days (March 9th) to either have a written defense from myself or an attorney, or judgement by default may be taken against me for the relief demanded in the attached complaint. They also sent me a copy of a bill dated Sep 10 - Dec 09 2010 but blacked out all of my account number except the last 4 digits. I have not used the card in a long time because I shredded it years ago. I am really confused of what I should do about all of this. I am willing to say that I do owe them maybe $600 but I do not agree that I owe them $1132 and attorney fees. I just dont know where to go with this. Any advice on how to handle it?
February 22, 2012
You say that it was a long time ago that you stopped paying. Your debt continued to grow since you stopped paying it. Whether or not the balance that the creditor is now seeking is accurate, I can't say.

One thing you could try is to negotiate a lump sum settlement, for a percentage of what you owe. The law firm may or may not be willing to settle. If not, perhaps they will agree to a payment plan.
Kaydee K.
Waianae, HI  |  January 04, 2012
I'm being sued by Citibank or the lawers representing Citibank here in honolulu. My question is, i'm working with a debt management company, and i've been making a monthly payment to them as they said they can bring my debt down 60%. I've been with them for about a year and a half and its a 36 month program. But yet i'm still being sued and need to go to court next week for my hearing starts. The debt management team keeps telling me it will be ok but it shouldn't have gone this far, to me anyways, and if they do win the judgment do i mention i'm working with a debt managment co. but according to them i'm representing myself pro se. Am i totally doomed!!!! i don't know what to do. Please help!!!!
January 04, 2012
What, exactly, is the debt management company doing? Is the company in negotiations with the plaintiff who filed the lawsuit against you. If yes, what has been the result of the negotiations? If no, ask them to explain why "it will be ok" if nothing has been accomplished.

Effective debt settlement companies have legal departments that become involved when a customer is sued, and negotiate with the opposing law firm to reach an out-of-court settlement.
Kaydee K.
Waianae, HI  |  January 18, 2012
thanks for responding, i contacted the debt consolidation company where i'm enrolled at and they told me not to go to court, because i don't have a defense i will get 2 judgements on me because i owe the debt. My court date was yesterday and i guess ihave to just wait to hear from the lawyer who sued me to find out whats next. They also want me to drop out of their program with them, since i seem unhappy with the results (duhh!!) they didn't do anything but collect money over $7000 from me and i still have 2 more credit cards that i thought was in negotiation but apparantly they said that i would hear from the credit card companies, so i haven't heard anything so i guess i can plan on getting sued by them too. The company i'm enrolled at also told me to file bankruptcy and they can help with a portion of the fee that the lawyers charge. I really feel ripped off but they said they spent more money on paper work and on my case than they have collected from me by sending letters on my behalf to my credit card company asking them to validate my debt, i've seen no proof and ask them to send me proof as to what they sent and what they did for me, is there anything i can do??? please help me
January 21, 2012
Who is your debt relief company? You could always reach out to the owner and ask for a full refund, and then use those $7k in fees towards your bankruptcy filing.
Kaydee K.
Waianae, HI  |  February 02, 2012
I've tried to ask them for some money back and they say they will give me a portion of the money to help pay for a bankruptcy attorney, (I will believe it when I see it) but i don't want to file bk, i've settled with the lawyers office for 12K but i still have (2)credit cards out there that i had enrolled with this company and i really feel they are a scam! They also said they would stop my payments and yet still took out from my checking (which i didn't have enough money in there so i got a bank charge of $30 for unsuffiecient funds go figure)but i closed my checking acct. so they can't ripped me off anymore! I asked them why they continued to take out money if i stopped the program he said it was too late to cancel for this month (just another lie)So my question is, is there anything i can do to recover some of my money or just consider it a HUGE loss!? i think i can answer that myself, but down deep i'm hoping for some miracle! and what else was strange was that the company electronically taking out from my checking acct. was not the company i signed up with. But the bank said i had to have given them my acct number i said i gave authorization for another company, they suggested i close my acct after i pay the bank fee and the balance the bank paid them from my acct, which i didn't have the money in that acct. on purpose so they couldn't get anymore money from me, but the bank paid them my money anyways! So i paid the bank the money owed and closed the acct!!!!!! Please help me
February 04, 2012
Consult with a lawyer in your state who has civil litigation experience to learn if you have a cause of action against the company or companies involved.
Tonya M.
Ashland, KY  |  September 08, 2011
I think I have something new, or at least I have looked and haven't read anything like it before. I received a summons from Capital One (or lawyers for plaintiff) for a certain amount. Wasn't sure about this so I checked my credit report and Capital One says account closed charged off.... The account had a different balance than what the summons was asking for. The Cap 1 account was a Visa.(said was opened 7/06) I looked further down my credit report and now there is a Citi mastercard opened 6/1/11 with a balance of exactly what the summons from Cap 1 stated. I NEVER opened an account with Citi nor do I have this card. It also says account is open and current and that there is approx. 9,000 available credit??? I am confused. What should I do? Again balance on this account is exactly to the dollar what Cap 1 summons has on it? Sorry this is so long but I just wasn't sure what to do. Debt Validation letter? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
September 09, 2011
You're correct that your circumstances are unusual; I have not heard this exact scenario before. I have a few suggestions for you.
  1. Call Citi and speak with their fraud department. Give them your social security number and any partial number you see for the account on your credit report. See if they show an active account in your name.
  2. Take the proper steps, if you have been victim of idenity theft and the Citi account was openind without your knowledge and permission.
  3. Validate the debt with the lawyer who sent you the notice about the Capital One debt, as you suggested. If the debt is yours and is valid, work to reach an agreement on a settlement or a payment plan before it goes to court, if the statute of limitations on the debt has not run out.
  4. Consult with an attorney, if these initial steps do not prove helpful.

Please return here and share what you learn and how you resolve this issue.

Heidi D.
Beaver, OR  |  September 27, 2011
I'm having a similar issue. I received a call from a "private caller" stating they had attempted to deliver a summons but I wasn't home. They then said they sent me a letter in the mail 30-45 days previous. I have never received such a letter. How do I check if this is a fraudulent money scheme? I was worried that my ex husband signed us up without my knowledge before the divorce so I checked my credit report and it shows this HSBC account closed and paid in full in 2008. I called HSBC and they show no open account and obligations are paid. I called them back after gathering my facts and they keep dropping this mysterious debt from $3000.56 to $1855.25 to $924 to $565.88. I think I'll opt for this so-called court date.
September 27, 2011
Seems like a variation on the following scam: A caller claims to be a process server who wishes to verify the consumer's address. Naturally, the consumer asks for details, and the caller has only the "law firm's" telephone number. The consumer calls the number, and is offered a settlement on an old account appearing on the consumer's credit report. A smart consumer will validate the debt, which the con artist cannot do. A gullible or forgetful consumer will accept the bogus settlement offer for a debt they do not owe.
Julia H.
Moses Lake, WA  |  January 27, 2012
I want to help the question by Kaydee K in Hawaii. I had this very thing happen to me with HSBC who services many department store cards like "Reward Zone" for Best Buy and other chain stores. I was in the process of asking them to validate the debt was mine and they sent me a summons to court. I had a friend who gave me a gentleman in california who deals only with this problem. He wrote my answer to them using their own assumptions in the court papers. He found that A) they couldn't prove the debt was mine B) HSBC was not licensed to operate business in my state C) according to the law there were several items they had to bring forth to the court before they had the right to proceed.... He had a list of 9 things...NINE. They withdrew their case because they really couldn't produce what they needed. According to this man's research, only about 3% of these cases ever have a defendant fight the charges in court so they walk away without a fight on something that they really have no right to. In fact as with the credit "fix it" or consolidation company, you will find that the law suits and letters don't go away. If I remember what I was told, this is because your debt goes out on the "for sale" lot. Whoever buys the debt purchases it for pennies on the dollar.They are only looking for who they can scare into believing that they can get money from people whom they bring to court, because, after all who wants to go to court, it is scary! The other reason is the attorney agencies that use this method to pay their own bills don't care if you settled the debt with someone else. They bought the debt from the credit card company. They still intend to get something for their trouble. Lastly, if the credit card company has written off your debt, that means they are getting a tax break from your account and cannot get a tax break AND receive payments. That is another reason that you cannot go to a credit counselling company who neg., with your card company if it has been written off, Then they get money from you for negotiating with no purpose in which to do it.The card company can't legally take your payment under those circumstances. I remember that whole thing was very unpleasant and scared me. I don't know how to get the info to you if you want it since this is the a blog. I guess you could go to my FB site and send me a message if you wanted me to look up this man's name. He had a background as a CPA, the credit thing was just a hot button for him. He was reasonably priced too. (
Jenni W.
Everett, WA  |  February 23, 2012
"Seems like a variation on the following scam: A caller claims to be a process server who wishes to verify the consumer's address. Naturally, the consumer asks for details, and the caller has only the "law firm's" telephone number. The consumer calls the number, and is offered a settlement on an old account appearing on the consumer's credit report. A smart consumer will validate the debt, which the con artist cannot do. A gullible or forgetful consumer will accept the bogus settlement offer for a debt they do not owe."

This happened to me! Someone called my Mom's house looking for me telling her they were the county sheriff and they needed to verify my address to serve me a summons, I happened to be there on a business call on my cell and told my Mom to take a message. They said if I didn't come to the phone they would come arrest me. So, of course, I got off the phone call and spoke with the "sheriff". He told me he had this summons but he couldn't tell me what it was about. But, he had a phone number. I took the number and he said I should call it before he served me because after that they wouldn't talk to me and that he would call me back in an hour to see if I got it worked out before he served me. So, I called and it was supposedly some lawyers office about some "debt" I had that I didn't know anything about. But since I didn't want to have court costs I paid them and made a future pay arrangement. Afterwards, I spoke to my Mom and she told me the supposed "sheriff" first had thought we were in MN. We are in WA. That got me to thinking, if it was the real sheriff he would know what state we were in. I called the County Sheriff's office and found out no one from there had called me. Then I had to stop payment and remove all the money from the account with the number I gave them. They actually had the gall to call on the future payment arrangement and leave a message on my parent's machine reminding me about the 2nd payment. (And, that is after I told them my cell number and told them not to call my parent's home again, so they knew it was not my residence.) Needless to say, I get a call like that again and I am not paying anyone anything.
Ramon B.
New York, NY  |  August 12, 2011
I'm being sued by a collection agency that bought my debt from capital one my court date is august 22. Am I better of settling out of court or going to court? Can I be sued or be held responsible for their expenses if I lose? Can I settle on court? What's my best option ? Thank you
August 12, 2011
I cannot answer your question because I know nothing about the facts in your case. If you are not the responsible party, in other words, you do not owe the debt, then go to court and argue you are the wrong party. On the other hand, if you are the debtor, then it is generally cheaper to make an out-of-court settlement before the time of the hearing. You have the most flexibility, and are not burdened by a judgment, which may result from a hearing/trial. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience to learn more about your options and potential liabilities.
Karen A.
Mililani, HI  |  May 09, 2011
PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME! I allowed my in-laws to take a business credit card under my name thinking that they are more than responsible enough to pay on time. Unfortunately, along with the loss of their car repair businesses due to the recession, they have also failed to pay my card on time and I was contacted by a collection agency a few months ago asking for the full amount of $23,000 dollars!!! My in-laws then tells me that do not worry and they are working with an attorney to handle it through a consolidation company. Last week I got a knock on the door from the sheriff's office and got served a summons to appear in court this Wednesday! (2 DAYS LEFT!) I called my in-laws and was told that there was nothing that they could do and did not realize that the debt consolidation agreement is no longer going through. I am now left to figure this out for myself! I have now tried to take some action into my own hands and called the collection agency to try and reach a settlement agreement. I repeatedly explained that this was not my debt, I did not apply for the card (which is true,) was not even in the state where the transactions were being made (my in-laws are in Vegas, I am in Hawaii) They asked me to offer a settlement and told them I only have $2000 of my own money to give since I am just a stay at home mom, and not able to get a job because I am 5 months pregnant. My fiance just lost his job and about to file for bankruptcy. They offered to reduced it to half off and pay about $1000 a month, and I said I cannot afford that. He then said try to gather as much money as I can and give him a call tomorrow and offer something better. I am now planning to call them tomorrow and let them know that I am only able to gather around $3500 with help from my own family and from selling my in-laws furniture. I have also already told them that everyone in my family is getting ready to file for bankruptcy and informed him that I was also advised to do so if I cannot afford to pay a settlement. My question is, if we agree to a settlement, do I still need to go to court this Wednesday? What steps should i take with the collection agency so that a judgement would be dismissed? Was it okay for me to negotiate with the collection agency and not the attorneys office? What is a price that I should expect to pay and what price I should not pay? Did I do something I shouldn't have?? ANY OTHER ADVISE?!?! PLEASE I NEED HELP BECAUSE I NEED TO KNOW WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE COURT DATE: MAY 11TH 2011!!!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!
May 10, 2011
Negotiating a claim's settlement before a trial is a time- and court-honored way of resolving a dispute between parties. I do not think you made a mistake negotiating. Based on the facts you provided, your negotiating position is this: Your spouse has already filed for bankruptcy, or is about to. You have few assets. All you can offer to settle the $28,000 debt is a couple thousand. Whoever owns the right to collect the debt (either the law firm that filed the lawsuit against you or the collection agency) has a choice: Either take the settlement now, or expect that you will file for bankruptcy after the judgment where they will get nothing. If the collection agency believes you, it will settle for $2,000. If it does not believe you, or is stupid or cruel, it will reject your settlement offer and wait for a judgment.

Regarding the trial, I urge you to consult with a lawyer in your state who has civil litigation experience. You mentioned the trial is in a few days. Ask a lawyer to help you draft a request for a continuance or postponement, which will allow you time to negotiate with the plaintiff and mount a defense.
Kay B.
Martinsburg, WV  |  July 04, 2011
Can you be arrested for not showing up or answering a civil summons?
July 05, 2011
In some jurisdictions, the answer is yes. Consult with a local lawyer (by local I mean one in the immediate vicinity of the court in question) who has experience in civil procedure or consumer law. Ask him or her if that court has a history of issuing bench warrants for people who fail to respond to civil summonses. You will get get one of two responses: Silence followed by incredulity that you would ask such a question (in other words, "no"), or a sigh followed by, "Yes, old Judge So-and-so does this all of the time. No one else does, though."
Amy L.
Vancouver, WA  |  April 28, 2011
I have been given a Summons from an attorneys office who is representing a debt collector. I told them that I have been unemployed for 3 years and my husband has been unemployed for a year and a half. We are surviving off of student loans and unemployment. Which barley gets us by. I told them that I had a family member who would pay them a settlement amount of 1,000 and the debt is 5,197. They said there client wont except that. What happens next? Can they take my husbands pail grants for school and his unemployment?
April 28, 2011
My first thought is for you to consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience. If you cannot afford a lawyer, call your county bar association and ask for the name of the organization in your state that provides no-cost legal services to people with low or no income. make an appointment with that organization and bring all of the documents you have relating to the debt and the summons to your meeting. The lawyer you meet will advise you accordingly.

My second thought is for you to keep negotiating with the lawyer. Explain your financial situation. Provide financial statements if necessary. State that if the plaintiff is awarded a judgment it will not be able to get a wage garnishment because you are unemployed, an account levy is impossible because you have nothing in your bank accounts, and there is no property to place a lien on because you own nothing. Ask, "Would you rather get $1,000 now or a judgment that will net you zero?" If the lawyer does not negotiate, then be sure to make a point of appearing for the hearing and explain your situation to the judge.
Dacia S.
Chamblee, GA  |  April 23, 2011
Can I still negotiate a repayment plan after the court date is set?
April 24, 2011
Yes, you can negotiate a settlement or a payment plan right up to and even after a hearing or even a judgment.
Jan T.
Bellevue, WA  |  April 17, 2011
i was served a summon on Saturday. it doesn't have a court date or anything. it was about a captial one card i used to have. i had stop paying on it because of financial problems. if i am willing to pay for it will i still have to co to court. Can i called the lawyer's office who served me and ask for a payment plan. the debt is 1600 and i am will to at least pay 500 now. please help as i have never been served before. thank you j.t.
April 18, 2011
The creditor and its lawyer would much rather you settle the debt before the court date to avoid that expense. By all means, call the lawyer and negotiate a settlement. Ask if it will accept $500 as a lump-sum settlement for the debt.
Jan T.
Bellevue, WA  |  April 16, 2011
i just got a summon from a law office for a debt from Captial One. It does not state any court date, so is it possible that i can still struck a payment deal with them. The debt is 1650.00, I am willing to make payments if they allowed. Will they lower the fees or not ask me to appeared in court if i pay at least half or at leas 650.00?
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