Let's assume for a minute that the debt collector has sent you papers with an actual court date.
Is it real? The court date, I mean, or just a ploy to get you to pay the collector?
It could be both. First, contact the district court listed on the papers. They'll be able to tell you if the debt collector sent you to court (at a future date) or not. If they have, do not skip it. And, trust me, going before a judge is no big deal. It's a lot like answering a traffic ticket. The judge will ask you to affirm if the debt is yours. If it is, there's no reason to fight it at this stage in front of a judge. Fight it out with the collector. The judge is not going to care one way or another if you settle.
Either prior to the court date or after, contact the debt collector to offer a settlement (if you are able to). Don't let them scare you into having you pay them before you pay your house or car payment.
Also, never EVER give them access to your bank account information. Also, it's not advisable to give them any personal information, like employer name, etc. This just makes it easier to garnish your wages.
**Please keep in mind, the advice given above is only my opinion, and your situation may be different so it would be adviseable to seek legal counsel**