Debt lawsuits in California

When a company claims you didn’t pay back a debt, the company (creditor) can file a lawsuit against you in court.


This guide has information about your options if you are sued for a debt in California, and things you can do to avoid having your debt issue end up in court.

Need more help?

You may need legal help if you're sued. There are also government agencies that can help if the debt collector is breaking the law.


Find legal resources

You may be able to take action before getting sued

Before filing a lawsuit, a creditor will often charge late fees, send you a series of notices, or contact you by phone. There are laws in California that limit what the creditor can do when contacting you. 

Negotiating with the creditor to settle a debt before a lawsuit is filed is often the least expensive way to resolve a debt. This is because neither side has invested in court costs or spent much effort trying to collect the debt. 

Learn about how to resolve a debt before a lawsuit

If you're being sued, you'll receive official court papers

illustration of a signed paper form changing hands

If you are being sued, you’ll receive at least two documents. One is called a Summons and the other a Complaint.

These documents are typically handed to you or might be left with someone 18 years or older at your home, work, or mailing address. 

How to read the Summons and Complaint

Debt lawsuits

Select a type of debt

Select the type of debt that applies to your situation. You'll get specific information about what you can do before a lawsuit starts and step-by-step instructions for responding to a lawsuit for that type of debt.

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