If you have an outstanding debt with Discover Bank, they are entitled to pursue collection efforts against you, including a civil lawsuit. While filing a lawsuit is often a last resort, creditors may be willing to put forth the time and expense to recoup a debt if all other efforts have failed. If you've been served with a suit from Discover Bank, take the following steps to prepare your answer and establish a credible defense.
Things You'll Need
- Copies of any documentation related to the account in question, including cardholder agreement, the original contract and any correspondence from the creditor
- Copies of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
- Computer with printer
Choose your defense. When filing your answer, you are required to offer some sort of explanation or defense as to why you feel you are not liable for the debt. Inability to pay is not a suitable defense and you must be able to provide supporting evidence for your claim.
File your answer with the court within the time frame as prescribed by the summons. This may be anywhere from ten to thirty days. You may respond via a Notice of Appearance, which prevents the court from entering a default judgment against you, and a subsequent Answer, which notifies the court of your defense. You must file the proper paperwork with the court prior to the court date.
Request validation of the debt from Discover Bank within thirty days of receiving notice of the debt. This means that the creditor must provide written documentation that you are liable for the debt and that they have legal standing to collect on it. Once you request validation, collection efforts against you must stop until proof is provided. If the creditor cannot provide this information, then the lawsuit cannot proceed.
Check the statute of limitations regarding debt in your state. Each state has different regulations regarding time-barred debts, or those debts whose age essentially makes them uncollectable. This simply means that you cannot be sued for the debt if its age has exceeded the statute of limitations. This may be anywhere from two to ten years depending on the type of debt.
Pull your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus and verify the age of the debt. The statute of limitations generally begins at the initial date of default, or the first missed payment. Check your reports carefully to ensure that the account is being reported correctly, as debt collectors may re-age accounts to circumvent the time restriction. If the debt has aged out of the statute of limitations, you still owe it but you cannot be sued for it.
If the creditor is able to provide validation and the statute of limitations has not passed, you may need to consider a settlement proposal, wherein you offer a lump-sum payment for less than what is owed. While doing so acknowledges your responsibility for the debt, it also helps you to avoid the prospect of a judgment for the full amount being entered against you in court.
If a judgment is entered against you, you may appeal. Keep in mind that for a creditor to actually collect on a debt, further court action is required. If you do not have any assets with which to pay, you may be able to have the court deem you judgment-proof, meaning the creditor can't pursue further collection efforts until your financial situation improves.