February 25, 2024

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Wisconsin (2024 Guide)

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Wisconsin (2024 Guide) ZumaZip

In Wisconsin, you have a tight deadline of 20 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit before facing a default judgment. To protect your rights, it’s crucial to file a written Answer with the court within this timeframe. Your Answer should address each claim stated in the Complaint and assert any affirmative defenses you may have. Don’t forget to send a copy of your Answer to the plaintiff as well. With ZumaZip, you can streamline this process and create an Answer document in just 15 minutes, ensuring you meet the deadline and respond effectively to the lawsuit.

Life is pretty stressful these days. Chances are you’re already doing everything you can to make ends meet and keep your family safe. Getting sued for debt collection on top of everything else may feel like too much to take. You might be tempted to ignore it and hope it goes away. Unfortunately it will not go away on its own, and all you get by ignoring is a guarantee that you are going to lose and end up in a worse financial state than before.

Avoiding that outcome is easier than you might think. In this article, we will teach you how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit on your own when you can’t afford to hire an attorney. Hopefully, it will make this process easier for you. This article includes information specific to Wisconsin, including the state’s deadlines and court forms.

Let’s jump right in.

Table of Contents

  • What happens when you’re served
  • Deadlines
  • Texas Answer Forms
  • Steps to Respond to Petition
  • What is ZumaZip?
  • Your Debt is Sold to Collection Company
  • Statute of Limitations on Debt in Texas
  • If You Haven’t Been Sued Yet

Respond before Wisconsin’s deadline

A Wisconsin debt collection lawsuit begins when one party (the plaintiff) files a Summons and Complaint against you (the defendant). The plaintiff is usually a creditor or, more likely, a third-party debt collection company that purchased the debt from your original creditor. As soon as the lawsuit is filed, the clock starts ticking and you only have a limited period of time to respond and preserve your rights.

According to Wisconsin’s Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 802.06 (1)(a) states:

“Except when a court dismisses an action or special proceeding under s. 802.05 (4), a defendant shall serve an answer within 20 days after the service of the complaint upon the defendant.”

In other words, you have 20 days to respond to a debt collection Summons and Complaint in Wisconsin. There are some legal cases where that deadline can be extended to 45 days, but those are rare. If you do not file a response with the court before those 20 days expire, you will lose by default.

If you miss the deadline to respond, the plaintiff will ask the Court for a default judgment, which means not only do they win the case, but you’ve also lost your chance to fight back against incorrect information (like the debt amount). Even worse, with a default judgment, the plaintiff can garnish your wages and even seize your property.

It’s best to avoid a default judgment like the plague and file a response with the court before the 20-day deadline.

Use Wisconsin’s Answer to Summons forms

You can use ZumaZip’s Answer form to respond to a lawsuit in Wisconsin. All you have to do is answer a few questions online, and ZumaZip’s automated system will use your responses to draft your Answer for you. This includes the proper legal language and formatting.

Here’s an example of ZumaZip’s Answer form.

If you’d rather fill out a form yourself, Wisconsin courts provide an online Answer form for debt collection cases in Small Claims Court (a division of Circuit Court which hears cases involving $10,000 or less). If your case is in Wisconsin’s Small Claims Court, you can use this form SC-5200V.

If your case is in Circuit Court, you will need to draft your response in the correct format for the specific Court. Find your court’s information in the caption of your Summons and Complaint at the top of the document.

Now, let’s take a look at an example.

Example: Tracy received a lawsuit letter from Discovery Collections. She knew she must respond to prevent the agency from receiving a default judgment. Tracy did not know how to draft an Answer. She tried to use one of the recommended forms, SC-5200, but did not get far before needing assistance. Tracy went online and found ZumaZip. She decided to try ZumaZip’s Answer form—which was straightforward and only took 15 minutes to complete. Due to her busy schedule, she paid the additional fee to have an attorney review the Answer and file it with the courts. After a few months, Tracy found out that Discovery Collections had dropped the case because the debt was past the statute of limitations, which she used as an affirmative defense in her Answer with ZumaZip’s help.

Answer filing fees for Wisconsin

Great news! There are no fees to file an Answer to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

However, if you are trying to file any other type of document into a debt collection lawsuit, which is considered a civil case, there may be fees involved. For example, there is a fee to file a motion into a civil case of anywhere from $-$300, depending on the court. Additionally, there is a fee of $125.50 to file a counterclaim. Go online to find more information on other Wisconsin filing fees.

So, responding to a Summons for debt collection won’t cost you, but how do you go about doing it? Below, we discuss four simple steps you can follow to answer your debt lawsuit.

How do you respond to a Summons for debt collection in Wisconsin?

As we discussed above, a debt collection lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a case against you. You then have only 20 days to file your response to avoid a default judgment. You should respond with a written Answer which you file into the case.

You can also respond with a Motion, but an Answer is generally sufficient in most cases for Wisconsin debt collection cases, whereas Motions can become complicated quickly. Motions often require a greater understanding of the legal system and are best left to attorneys.

It may seem intimidating to think about responding to a lawsuit on your own, but you can save yourself a lot of money and stress when you represent yourself. Follow these four steps to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Wisconsin:

  1. Create an Answer document.
  2. Answer each issue of the complaint.
  3. Assert affirmative defenses.
  4. File one copy of the Answer document with the court and serve the plaintiff with another copy.

Now, let’s break down each step in detail.

1. Create an Answer document

Before you start drafting your Answer, go through the Summons and Complaint to be sure you have all the information you’ll need. The Summons notifies you of the lawsuit, and lists the parties involved in the case as well as the court that has jurisdiction over this case. The Complaint contains a list of the specific allegations, or claims, being made against you.

More specifically, the Summons and Complaint documents should contain the following, which you will need to draft your Answer document:

  • Defendant’s first and last name (that’s you)
  • Plaintiff’s name (the creditor or debt collector suing you)
  • Plaintiff’s attorney information
  • Physical address of both the defendant and the plaintiff
  • Court information, including which division the case is in and the court’s address
  • Case number (if the case hasn’t been filed in court yet, there will be no case number listed)
  • Debt amount

You can use ZumaZip’s Answer form to compile all this information and format it in the correct, legal way. If you prefer to draft your own Answer, you can also fill out Wisconsin’s SC-5200V form for cases in Small Claims Court. If your case is in Circuit Court, you can try drafting your own document without a form.

2. Answer each issue of the Complaint

The first section of your Answer document should include a list of responses that correspond with the numbered allegations from the Complaint. Generally, you need to enter a response for each allegation. You can answer in one of three ways:

  • Admit: This means “I Agree.”
  • Deny: This means “Prove it.”
  • Deny due to lack of knowledge: This means “I don’t know.”

It’s best to respond to each allegation individually, because if you leave any unanswered, the court will consider it an admission.

Most attorneys recommend that you deny as many allegations as possible. At this stage of the lawsuit, the burden of proof is not on you. So when you deny a claim, the plaintiff has to do more work to prove that it is true. If they don’t have the proper documentation or evidence to prove their claims, they might choose to dismiss the case instead.

Respond to a debt Summons and Complaint with ZumaZip in 15 minutes.

For small claims cases, the form simplifies the process into a single checkbox and space to fill in additional specifics. You should choose box #1 if the matter is not contested (admit), or box #2 if the matter is contested (deny). The second choice includes a statement that requires you to state why you contest the allegations. Attach another sheet if you need to address each allegation you disagree with.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to deny every claim to win the lawsuit. You can admit to true facts (such as your name and account number, etc.) without harming your argument.

It’s also appropriate to use the third response when you cannot verify the allegation. For example, if the plaintiff is a third-party debt collection agency and states that they are incorporated in Wisconsin, you can answer, “I don’t know.” You are not expected to research the corporation details on your own.

3. Assert affirmative defenses

The next step is to assert any appropriate affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is any reason that shows the other side does not have a case. You can find many of the possible affirmative defenses listed in Wisconsin’s Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 802.02 (3).

If you use the Wisconsin Small Claims Court Answer, include your affirmative defenses under #2 where you are contesting the matter. If you are drafting your own Answer document, you can create a new section devoted entirely to your affirmative defenses.

Keep in mind that not being able to pay the debt is not a valid affirmative defense.

Some of the most common affirmative defenses used in debt collection lawsuits are:

  • Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations on debt refers to the time limit that a creditor or debt collector has to sue someone for a debt they owe. We will discuss in more detail the state of Wisconsin debt statute of limitations. If the lawsuit against you is outside these limits, this defense can stop the plaintiff from getting a court order against you.
  • Accord and satisfaction: Tis applicable when the parties have already reached a new agreement about the issue. In this case, you signed an agreement with the creditor to pay less than the total debt owed in full satisfaction of the debt.
  • Discharge in bankruptcy: You are no longer legally obligated to pay a debt if you previously filed a bankruptcy case that resulted in discharge and included the debt in question. This defense may come up because third-party collection agencies don’t always check if the court discharged the debt through bankruptcy.
  • Payment: This defense is appropriate if you have already paid the debt in question. If you have documentation to support this defense, attach it for the court to review.
  • The debt is not yours: The lawsuit could be against someone with a similar name. Or perhaps the account number listed is not the one under your name. Additionally, you may have been a victim of identity theft. You can argue that you are not responsible for the debt.

Make the right affirmative defenses the right way, with ZumaZip.

Let’s consider an example.

Example: Randy had a credit card debt with Connexus Credit Union (CCU). They tried to collect from him, but he ignored their attempts because he remembered paying the entire debt one year back and had the receipts to prove it. CCU sued Randy, and they delivered a Summons and Complaint to him at home, meaning he had 20 days to respond. On taking a closer look at the letter, he saw they had spelled his second name as Edmond instead of Edmund. Randy knew he had a strong case. He wrote down two affirmative defenses; he had paid the debt in question, and CCU could be collecting a debt that did not belong to him. He attached the receipt and a copy of his identification card for name confirmation. CCU dismissed the case after receiving his Answer.

After you’ve addressed your affirmative defenses, you can assert any counterclaims if you believe the plaintiff violated any state of Wisconsin debt collection laws. Wisconsin follows the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which protects consumers from harassment and threats by debt collection agencies. Wisconsin offers additional provisions beyond the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, including the Wisconsin consumer act — debt collection.

4. File the Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff

Your final step is to file your Answer with the court and serve the plaintiff with a copy. Don’t forget this critical final step, or all the work you’ve done will have been for nothing.

Here’s what you need to do to file your answer:

  • Print at least two copies of your Answer.
  • Mail one copy to the court.
  • Mail the other copy to the plaintiff’s attorney.

ZumaZip can file your Answers for you in all 50 states.

The address for the court and attorney should be listed on the Summons or Complaint document. If you can’t find the court’s address, use this directory.

In the Wisconsin small claims form, you will sign under oath that a copy has been or will be mailed to the plaintiff or their attorney. Note that it’s always a good idea to make an additional copy for your records. Watch this video for additional information on responding to a lawsuit in Wisconsin.

Why ZumaZip?

ZumaZip makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use ZumaZip to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

ZumaZip’s Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we’ll have an attorney review your document and we’ll file it for you.

Statute of limitations on debt in Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin debt statute of limitations runs for six years for most types of debt. This includes medical debt, credit card debt, auto loan debt, and state tax debt. If that period expired before the lawsuit against you began, you can assert the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense.

You should know that making a payment on a debt account will restart the clock on the statute of limitations. For this reason, it’s extremely important to check the statute of limitations on your debt before you agree to make any payments to a creditor or debt collector, especially if you suspect that the debt is old.

The table below outlines Wisconsin’s statute of limitations on different types of debt:

Wisconsin Statute of Limitations
on Debt
Debt TypeDeadline in Years
Credit Card6
Auto Loan6

Source: Findlaw

All states have legal aid organizations, some are government-funded. They offer legal services to residents who cannot otherwise afford them. Below are some of these organizations in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin court locations

At some point in your lawsuit, you may want to take a trip down to the courthouse. Whether you want to check the status of your case or you need to attend a hearing or trial for your case, it’s important to know where your courthouse is located.

The following link gives you the Wisconsin Court Locations for all counties throughout the state. Just click on the type of court and it will open up a directory for you with the courthouse addresses and court clerk phone numbers.

Send a Debt Validation Letter to debt collectors before they sue

When a debt collector initially contacts you, sending them a Debt Validation Letter can stop them in their tracks. Within five days of attempting to collect on a debt, the FDCPA requires a collector to provide validation of that debt. It requires the collector to include five points in its communication with you.

  1. The amount of the debt.
  2. The name of the creditor.
  3. The collector will assume the debt is valid unless the consumer sends them a Debt Validation Letter within 30 days.
  4. If you send the collector a Debt Validation Letter they will need to mail you validation of the debt.
  5. If you send them a Debt Validation Letter they will need to mail you the name and address of the original creditor.

So, the debt collector must provide these five points within five days of contacting you about the debt. Then, you have 30 days to send them a Debt Validation Letter if you dispute any aspect of the debt. If the collector doesn’t provide these five points within five days, then they’ve violated the FDCPA and you can sue them for $1,000 or more. To learn more about Debt Validation Letters, click here.

Key takeaways

In summary, here’s the review on how to Answer a Summons for debt collection in Wisconsin:

  • The response deadline is 20 days.
  • You can use ZumaZip’s Answer form or Wisconsin Court’s Answer and Counterclaims form for small claims to draft your Answer document.
  • Be sure to respond to each issue in the Complaint.
  • Assert your affirmative defenses.
  • File and serve the Answer.
  • The statute of limitations on debt in Wisconsin is generally six years.
  • Sending a Debt Validation Letter to collectors before they sue you can get them off your back.

ZumaZip has helped thousands of consumers beat debt collectors before and during debt collection lawsuits. In addition to our Answer document, our Motion to Compel Arbitration has enabled consumers to avoid going through the court process and forcing debt collectors to honor their contracts by settling outside of court through arbitration.

What is ZumaZip?

ZumaZip is a convenient solution designed to streamline your response to a debt collection lawsuit. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when you use ZumaZip:

Firstly, you’ll access our user-friendly web application, which guides you through the process step by step. You’ll be prompted to answer a series of questions related to your specific situation. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you have the option to either print out the finalized forms and mail them to the appropriate courts yourself, or you can opt to utilize ZumaZip’s services to file them on your behalf. Additionally, if you choose this option, an attorney will review your document for added peace of mind.

If you’re seeking guidance on how to effectively respond to a debt collection lawsuit, ZumaZip can provide the assistance you need. Feel free to explore our FAQs for more information on what ZumaZip has to offer.

What if I haven’t been sued yet?

If you’ve only received a collections notice, but not a lawsuit, the best way to respond is with a Debt Validation Letter. When a debt collector contacts you in any way, whether it’s by phone or mail, you can respond by formally requesting a debt validation with a Debt Validation Letter . This letter notifies the collector that you dispute the debt and forces them to provide proof you owe the debt. They can’t call you or continue collecting until they provide validation of the debt. This flowchart shows how you can use a Debt Validation Letter to win.

Get started with a Debt Validation Letter here.

How to Answer a Summons for debt collection in all 50 states

Here’s a list of guides on how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in each state:

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