The Importance of Answering a Collections Summons in California:
While the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects residents of all 50 states from unfair debt collection practices, each state is free to enact additional protections for consumers. California's consumer protection laws are, by far, the most consumer-friendly of any state. These additional, statutory protections translate into court victories for California consumers fighting collection lawsuits filed by credit card companies and other debt collectors.
The bottom line: filing an answer to a debt collection summons
can - and quite frequently does - lead to dismissal of a debt collector's lawsuit. In addition, if the debt collector has willfully violated the law (for example, by making collection calls late at night or calling the consumer's workplace or family members)
, the consumer can even obtain damages against the debt collector. This is done by filing an answer with counterclaim
California Consumer Protection Law: The Most Consumer-Friendly Statute in the USA:
California residents who choose to answer a credit card summons or other collections lawsuit have a substantial likelihood of succeeding because California consumer protection law is broader and more protective than other state statutes. California law is broader than federal law because it gives consumers protection against abusive practices against both debt collectors, as well as creditors. In contrast, the FDCPA applies only to debt collectors. In California, a consumer can seek damages for abusive collection practices against not only debt collectors, but also directly against the creditor. This is a huge difference - and can dramatically affect the outcome of a collections lawsuit to the benefit of the consumer.
In addition, the protections afforded to California consumers are more extensive than under the FDCPA and other state laws. Credit card companies and debt collectors:
- Must give customers thirty days to dispute a debt before assuming a debt is valid. A creditor cannot institute court proceedings for the collection of debt unless the debtor has had at least thirty days to dispute it;
- Are restricted from calling debtors at inappropriate times or in an inappropriate manner;
- Cannot attempt to establish communication with a debtor after being informed by the debtor to contact his or her attorney; and
- Cannot threaten a course of action which the creditor is not legally entitled to take. For instance, a creditor cannot threaten to put the debtor in jail.
Moreover, under California law, the statute of limitations for credit card disputes is four years from the date that the debt accrued. If a creditor or collection agency institutes a suit after the expiration of the statute of limitations, then the debtor has a valid defense and is not obligated to pay the debt. The debtor's Answer should allege the statute of limitations as an affiramtive defense.
If you or someone you know have been served with a Complaint for an unpaid credit card debt, an Answer must generally be filed with the court within thirty days. Our Answer Forms Packages provide everything you will need to properly respond to the Complaint, including an Answer with affirmative defenses, a certificate of service, and a summary of California law. Because our forms come in Microsoft Word, they are fully customizable and may be edited to fit your individual needs.