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Maryland is one of the most prosperous states in America, which is due to the fact that it’s closely connected to Washington D.C. The average Maryland resident owes $7,000 in accumulated debt, making it a more debt-laden state than others since the national average debt load is $5,000 per person. Residents seek debt settlement and relief when their dues get out of hand. When you owe more than you make, it’s time to get professional help.

Socioeconomic Data for Maryland

The annual median household income in Maryland is an astounding $71,000, putting it at a higher rate than almost every other state in the country. Most people who live in Maryland either work in the Baltimore area or commute into Washington D.C. for employment opportunities. Despite its small size, Maryland has almost six million people living there year-round.

Roughly 70 percent of Maryland residents own their own homes and properties. The low cost of living and high income statistics make this state ideal for those who want more disposable income per month. The average credit score for Maryland dwellers is 687, putting them slightly above the average range. Over two and a half million people who live in Maryland and can work, do. Unemployment is only at 6.4 percent, making it typical with American living.

Debt Relief Laws Specific to Maryland

All creditors and law firms collecting debts must have a state-issued license in Maryland to operate. Maryland follows the set of guidelines outlined by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). All licensed creditors must comply with rules and regulations specific to the FDCPA or they could be subject to fines and jail time.

The statute of limitation in Maryland concerning all debts is three years. Oral, open and written contracts must be collected by a collection agency within three years before the due becomes null and void. You can imagine that collectors use this time limit to their advantage by constantly calling and contacting their clients’ delinquent accounts.

What is Debt Relief?

There are a lot of terms thrown around regarding debts, such as consolidation, counseling, settlement and relief. Debt relief and settlement refer to a professional working directly with creditors and law firms to reduce the amount you owe. Unlike consolidation that bases itself on rolling accounts into one payment, relief gets rid of these payments entirely. Let’s say that you owe $10,000 in credit card debt, the debt counselor can work with the collection agency to reduce this amount to a fraction of what is due.

Everyone walks away from debt relief happy because you’ll owe less money and the creditor still gets paid. If you were to file for bankruptcy because of your debts, creditors will receive nothing of what was due to them. Debt settlement may not be the best option for these agencies, but they would rather get something than nothing at all.

When and Why You Need to Seek a Professional

If you’re dealing with $5,000 or more in debt and are finding it difficult to pay everything back, you need to consult with a professional counselor. Owing more than you make is a sure sign of impending bankruptcy, but there’s a chance you can avoid this credit stigma by talking with a debt expert.

The counselor will determine the best plan according to your debts and income. After all, debt relief won’t work if you still owe too much after settlement has been finalized. Settlement firms are not without their fees and charges, but they cannot charge more than $25 per account and $50 for annual maintenance according to Maryland law. The amount you save on debt from using their services more than makes up for what they charge.

How to Find the Right Settlement Firm

In Maryland alone, there are hundreds of settlement firms that provide debt relief services. These companies are not alike, as some will provide superior financial planning options while others only promise without delivering. Look for companies that offer a free consultation so you can speak with a professional before choosing to hire them.

Once hired, the counselor will get to work immediately on settling debts with your creditors. It is up to you to provide all necessary paperwork and documentation so the counselor knows what debts you currently have. Even though it could take weeks or months to fully settle all of your debts, it is far better to do something about them than continuing to let them pile up and put your financial well-being at risk. It can be difficult to take the first step in hiring a debt relief professional, but it is something you won’t regret doing when you come away from the process feeling relieved while having your finances back on track.