I have received a court summons from my creditors, what do I do?
Summary: This article explains what to do if a creditor threatens to take an individual to court over unpaid debt.
The first thing is DO NOT PANIC. While receiving a court or official papers from a creditor may feel like the end of the world to some, there are numerous options available and lots of help and advice available. Furthermore, DO NOT ignore the summons, as it is not going to go away and could lead to a County Court Judgment (CCJ).
The two key actions are to get advice and to make contact with the creditors.
How should I deal with my creditors?
It goes without saying that when contacting creditors, being polite goes a long way. By showing willing and demonstrating you want to resolve the matter can go a long way. It may be possible to negotiate with the creditors to extend the deadline in the letter. By explaining circumstances they may even accept an offer of a reduced monthly payment while freezing interest. It is important not to threaten the creditors (with bankruptcy for example) as they will often be faced with such a response and they will not react. Nor will it help the situation. Furthermore, if a creditor is harassing an individual, remain calm and keep a note of all contact and the people responsible.
Who can I get advice from?
There are a number of free services available, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), National Debtline, and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS). There are also many fee charging services available that can give personalised one to one advice and support. All will all be able to provide information as to how best to respond to the letter and they may also be able to offer a solution if appropriate, such as a Debt Management Plan (DMP) or Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) which are both designed to help individuals become debt free through careful budgeting.