Request a validation of the debt from the creditor bringing suit. This means that the creditor must provide a written, signed statement of verification of the debt by mail. It also means that, until the validation is received by you, collection efforts must stop. It will fend off a lawsuit temporarily.
Get in direct contact with the creditor who is bringing the lawsuit against you and see if you can negotiate a way to pay off the debt. Work on persuading the creditor to drop its lawsuit and to let you pay off only a portion of the debt, explaining that your present financial situation makes it difficult or impossible to satisfy the entire debt. You may find that your creditor is receptive, since it would probably prefer to get paid something rather than nothing. Always communicate by certified mail, so you have legal documentation to prove your efforts to negotiate.
Find out if the statute of limitations has passed for a particular creditor to file suit against you. This refers to the window of time that a creditor is allowed to sue you for failure to pay off the balance of a debt after your last documented payment. The length of time depends upon what state you reside in. If that amount of time has passed, you can request that the lawsuit be dismissed by the court.
Pay off the creditor in full, if you are capable of doing so. That will put the skids on any lawsuit and stop a judgment being made against you. This applies only if you are financially able to pay what you owe.
File for bankruptcy. This may be the best option if you owe several creditors and are unable to defend yourself against a credit card company's lawsuit due to dire financial circumstances. If it is a nonsecure credit card debt it can be dissolved under Chapter 7; a secured credit card debt can be paid by liquidating your assets. If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which utilizes a court-approved repayment plan, that will provide you more time to pay off your debts.