- File an Answer to the lawsuit.
- Answer any Discovery Requests.
- Request Debt Validation from Plaintiff.
- Settle (if debt validation is satisfactory).
- Attend court hearing to dispute the debt (if no settlement).
File an Answer which includes defense of Statute of Limitations if you believe the debt is too old to be legally collected. Statute of Limitations is 4 years in Texas – usually calculated from time of last payment. If Discovery was served with the lawsuit, you have 50 days to respond.
Request Debt Validation which will include asking for original loan documents, credit card application, proof of assignment (if Plaintiff is not the original creditor), proof of all charges and payments etc. The plaintiff is the party that is suing you whose name is on the court document.
Settle the Debt by making an offer of settlement to the plaintiff. Start low at about 20% of the total debt, so you have room to negotiate. Lumpsum cash offers are most attractive to creditors. However, ask for a repayment plan if you need one but the settlement amount might be higher. Negotiate that creditor will not file a judgment against you in the meantime OR that the judgment will be released upon final payment.
Attend Court Hearing by showing up at the scheduled date. The court clerk can tell you when the date is, if you call to the clerk. Prepare your side of the story, challenge the debt as needed, and hope for the best. Remember, you can still settle up until the day of the final hearing.
You can find help for the above at a local law library which might have forms for you to use. Some courts also have basic forms available. If uncomfortable handling any of the above by yourself, be sure to enlist the help of a lawyer immediately so you can protect your rights and your credit.