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I am sorry to hear about this situation. Someone in your situation wants to file an ANSWER, for which a form exists (see HERE), or for which an answer may be written out. You can find step by step instructions on how to file (and what, along with the answer) HERE.
The answer may be filed even if the Defendant (i.e. you) is not in California. It is BEST to retain counsel, because it would make this a lot simpler. If you do not have counsel (or even if you do), you may need to appear in Court. If so, and if you cannot make it due to being outside of CA, a Motion for Telephonic Hearing would be required to ask the Court's permission to appear via video/telephone. This would then be at the Judge's discretion.
Unfortunately, the collector does not have to work on a payment plan. If the debt is owed, he may file a lawsuit against you for it.
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