When consumers do not pay their credit card bills and other personal debts, the credit card bank or the debt collection agency that has acquired the unpaid account receivable, will refer the debt to a debt collection law firm. I have on my web site an article that explains this process, “Understanding why you were sued.” Here’s the link to that: Sued Article.
If the debt collection law firm cannot get the debtor to agree to a settlement, then it files the summons and complaint with the court. These terms are described on my web site in an article entitled, “Terminology of Collection Lawsuits.” Once filed, the debt collection agency then has someone (typically a private process server or deputy sheriff) attempt “service” of the summons and complaint and other papers on the defendant(s).
Once the defendant has been served, a proof of service is prepared and filed with the court to show the date, time, manner, and address where service was performed. After the required number of days have expired, if the court does not receive a response filed by the defendant, the clerk of the court will permit the debt collection law firm to file papers for a default judgment.
A default judgment can be prevented if the debtor files a response for him or herself in court and pays the court’s filing fee or arranges for financial aid to take care of the filing fee. Because the consumer does not know what they must do next, the debt collector is still able to get a judgment against them during the lawsuit. Sometimes, the judgment is entered on the pleadings very early in the case (see my blog posting regarding judgment on the pleadings). More typically, the court will review the evidence and enter a money judgment for the plaintiff on a motion for summary judgment or at trial.
To review, the most common ways for a money judgment to be entered in a debt collection case are by default judgment, judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment, or judgment following trial. I have not had the honor of meeting a consumer who is properly equipped to represented him or herself in a debt collection case, which is why the first video on my web site’s home page discusses all possible options that may be available when sued on a debt collection lawsuit.
Tags: California Superior Court, credit card lawsuit, debt collection attorney, debt collection lawsuit, defend yourself in court, DIY debt collection defense, judgment after trial, money judgment, proof of service, summary judgment