Help with Creditors
Effective July 20th, Maryland Courts will start hearing debt collection "affidavit judgement" cases. If you have been sued in court for a debt in an affidavit judgment case and receive a summons or hearing notice, you need to either file the “Notice of Intention to Defend” that is attached to the lawsuit or appear for the hearing. Do not ignore the lawsuit and scheduled hearing – even if you believe you do not owe the debt or cannot afford to pay. If you fail to either file a Notice of Intention to Defend or appear for your hearing, the Court may enter a judgment against you in the case. See the Help with Legal Resources section for resources on low cost legal assistance.
The Consumer Protection Project (CPP) aids Maryland consumers who have been sued by creditors in District Court collection actions, MVLS has recently launched a hotline (443-451-4083) to support Marylanders. CPP volunteer attorneys and MVLS staff will provide brief advice on defending against debt buyers and other consumer lawsuits such as car repossessions and bail bonds. MVLS volunteer attorneys will work with consumers to discuss possible defenses, negotiate settlement agreements with creditors, and help file a Notice of Intention to Defend if appropriate. The hotline can assist with scenarios like:
If you know someone who is experiencing any of these issues, please share the MVLS Consumer Protection Project Hotline (443-451-4083 or click here.
If a debt collection agency is calling you, it’s important to know your rights and what you need to do. The FTC enforces the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which makes it illegal for debt collectors to use abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices when they collect debts. Click here to learn more and how to file a complaint on a debt collection company.
Please see the Help with Housing section for information on mortgage companies and landlords.
For information on student loan relief, please see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) webpage: What you need to know about student loans and the coronavirus pandemic".
Maryland's Governor Hogan has implemented a ban on the repossession of cars and trucks due to COVID 19, until the State of Emergency is lifted.
There is not a relief program in place for credit cards, insurance products or unsecured debt. For general information on how to contact these creditors, click here for tips from the CFPB.
If you have a judgment registered in court against you and are concerned about the creditor being able to put a freeze on your bank account, National Consumer Law Center has information on "Protecting Against Creditor Seizure of Stimulus Checks". Please add see our "Help with Legal Resources" section to look for pro bono legal assistance.
Health Club Memberships-According to the MD Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division "Because of the COVID-19 crisis, as of March 16, 2020, all health clubs, fitness centers and self-defense schools are closed to the general public. If a registered Fitness Center with long term contracts whether paid in advance or collected periodically, is closed for longer than a month due to no fault of the health club seller, the Fitness Center may either extend the membership period for a period equal to the length of the closure, or provide a prorated refund of the amount paid by the member during the closure. Therefore, Fitness Centers with members who pay monthly on a long term contract cannot continue to collect membership fees if the closure extends longer than a month unless the Fitness Center intends to extend the membership period."
The 3 major credit reporting bureaus are offering access to free credit reports weekly until April 2021 through annualcreditreport.com.