I have been through this with Citibank twice, and in the process I have heard from several attorneys and debt settlement program staff people that Citibank almost always takes the tough approach and goes for a judgement regardless of what program you may be in, no matter how good the program or your payment record with the program may be. This doesn’t mean they will or will not settle, but as I understand it this is Citibank’s standard policy that has been decided at some higher, bureaucratic corporate level, and not by the law firm representing them in a given case. I don’t know for sure if this is true everywhere, but this helped me be less stressed about it — i.e. they weren’t picking on me personally!
The suggestion of a legal clinic is a good one, I have also made use of the Legal Advice Line. Basically for $35-$50 you get to have a phone consultation (as long as needed) with an attorney in your state and this includes drafting court documents for you. Basically they help you “do it yourself” which is much better than doing it yourself alone. Pricing and services may vary depending on where you are located. In my experience you can often speak with an attorney the same day you call.
As I understand (and what was told to me) is that it is extremely important that an Answer be submitted to the Court by the deadline given in the lawsuit. (be sure to use certified / signature mail to send it to the Court and send a copy to the plaintiff.) This is a document responding to the lawsuit and as I understand it is much more important than you’re showing up in person for the hearing. This is where the Legal Advice Line or a similar service or a legal clinic can help you – what you say in the Answer can help keep the controversy upon which slows down the court process and gives you more time to come up with money to settle.
(Where I live the courts are very backed up so this bought me a year’s time). One point of controversy I can think of for you is to claim the proper venue is in your home county not the other state. Even if the original contract stipulates otherwise this forces Citibank to prove that, which means delays that help you be in a better negotiating position to settle.
I don’t know anything about the various debt settlement programs you are in and certainly if you are dissatisfied then it may be wise to change. However, I would encourage you to consider not changing programs too often, as this can make it hard for even the best people to help you with a process that does take time.
Please take my suggestions as ideas and not legal advice, and be sure to get some legal advice from someone in your area.
I wish you all the best.