Maryland Resident Debt Relief
InCharge provides free, nonprofit credit counseling and debt management programs to Maryland residents. If you live in Maryland and need help paying off your credit card debt, InCharge can help you.
Choose Your Debt Amount
Debt remains a bothersome issue for many in Maryland – even as the state’s economy continues its recovery from the pandemic.
The state ranks fifth in the country in average household debt. The average credit card debt of nearly $7,500 has put many Maryland residents in the uncomfortable position of seeking debt relief.
Maryland’s average credit card debt ranks third in the nation, and while the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.8% in July of 2022, 125,000 remain jobless.
Help is available through government and private agencies – most notably, nonprofit credit counseling agencies like InCharge Debt Solutions. These agencies can help financially distressed consumers get back on their feet.
Debt Relief Options for Maryland Residents
When credit card bills get overwhelming, InCharge Debt Solutions is among Maryland’s top nonprofit debt counseling services.
InCharge has a debt management program that works with your creditors to consolidate your debt, reduce the interest rates on credit card debt, and create an affordable monthly payment plan. InCharge handles the program, taking your monthly payment and distributing it to creditors in an agreed upon amounts each month.
InCharge credit counselors help create a monthly budget that has room on it to pay down debt. Consumers who had been paying 16-24% (or more) in interest on their credit cards could see that rate reduced to 8%, or even lower.
Debt management is not a loan, so credit score is not a factor when enrolling. The program is designed to eliminate debt in 3-5 years. It requires monthly payments, and it’s a good idea to stop using credit cards while in the program. Applications can be completed online or over the phone.
Debt settlement is an option for those struggling to make even the minimum payments on credit card debt. It works best for those who have run out of options and are trying to avoid bankruptcy.
With a debt settlement plan, a credit card company agrees to accept less than what is owed. This plan can be beneficial if you can negotiate a sizeable reduction in your balance, but is a risky option that will be on your credit report for seven years, and could lower your credit score 100-200 points.
This program requires negotiating an agreement with a lender who must be willing to accept less than what you owe. The process usually takes 2-3 years, during which time interest charges and late fees add to your credit card balance. What seems at first like a 50% reduction in debt, may wind up being 25%.
Debt Consolidation Loans
Debt consolidation loans could be an option if you have a good credit score. Those with a qualifying credit score (typically above 680) could receive a low-interest loan to pay off high-interest credit card debt.
The most common version of debt consolidation loan is to borrow enough money to pay all credit card balances, then repaying the consolidation loan one month at a time. Personal loans or home equity loans are the most common forms of debt consolidation loans.
It’s important to remember that this approach does not eliminate debt; it merely transfers the debt from one entity to another. Be smart about interest rates. Not all personal loans, for example, carry a low interest rate. Some loans also may require collateral – your home, a car – to back the loan.
Bankruptcy can wipe out credit card debt, but it will negatively impact your credit score for 7-10 years. That will make the prospects of buying a home or getting a car loan much more difficult in the years ahead. Because of that, bankruptcy typically is a last resort.
For those who need it though, bankruptcy is an option. The two most common types of personal bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
In Chapter 7, you qualify by passing a means test that ensures your income is less than the median income for your state. If you qualify, you sell assets to pay debt, though assets like your home, car, items needed for work and pensions could be exempt.
In Chapter 13, you work out a payment plan with the court that allows you to keep your assets in exchange for making regular payments to pay down debt. Typically these payment plans last 3-5 years.
Because of the damage it does to your credit score, bankruptcy should always be a last resort.
Credit Card Debt Forgiveness
Credit card forgiveness is a relatively new program and only a few nonprofit agencies, including InCharge Debt Solutions, offer it. In this program, lenders agree up front to accept 50%-60% of what is owed in exchange for making fixed regular payments on your debt for three years.
Consider this approach a blend of debt management, debt consolidation, and debt settlement. The agreements comes through a nonprofit debt counselor, and has no penalty for early payment.
The creditor must agree to join this program, you must have a balance of at least $1,000, and you must make the payments in full and on time. Because credit card forgiveness only works with delinquent accounts, you qualify only if you have not made a payment in the last 120 days.
One consideration: Any balance forgiven above $600 is considered income and must be declared on your tax return.
Maryland Debt and Financial Assistance Resources
The needy in Maryland can find financial assistance for paying expenses, including heating bills or rent. Social services also provide free medical or dental care, medications, food, low-income housing and other benefits for struggling families.
Here are some of the services available:
- Medical Debt Assistance and Help From Collectors: Maryland’s Department of Human Services can help those in need with paying medical bills, or who have questions about Medicaid and Medicare. Assistance also may be available for prescription drug costs.
- Financial Assistance in A Crisis: Maryland’s Salvation Army has an assistance center in every county. The Salvation Army may be able to offer financial funds for rent, utilities, medications and other daily expense.
- Cash Assistance and Social Services: Qualified individuals can get help for paying energy bills, medical expenses, prescriptions, and more. Some agencies can also help people find a job. Maryland’s Unemployment Workers Act can offer financial assistance or help with finding a job.
- Mortgage Help and Foreclosure Assistance: The state of Maryland has several programs that help families pay their monthly mortgage costs if they have fallen on hard times. Fannie Mae can also offer help to those citizens seeking mortgage relief and deferral payment plans.
- Free Legal Advice: Maryland Legal Aid typically helps more than 50,000 citizens each year. Attorneys provide a wide range of free legal assistance and pro-bono work to financially eligible families and individuals in need of advice before a court proceeding.
Maryland Debt Statistics
Here is a look at some of the factors that might prompt some Marylanders to seek dept relief.
- Household Debt: Maryland ranks fifth in the U.S. in terms of household debt — not including mortgage debt — with each resident of the state holding an average of $75,460 in debt, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
- Mortgage Debt: The average mortgage debt in Maryland is $282,683, which is skewed somewhat by the fact that many of the state’s wealthy suburbs are located just outside Washington, D.C.
- Student Loan Debt: Maryland ‘s average student loan debt is $42,681. Of the debtors, 20.7% owe between $20,000 and $40,000, and 3.2% owe more than $200,000, according to the Education Data Initiative.
- Auto Loan Debt: Experian reports that the average auto loan debt for Marylanders was $21,228. The per capita loan amount is $5,700, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
- Credit Card Debt: Maryland ranks fifth in the nation in credit card debt with an average of $6,276. Experian provided that figure in August of 2022, and it is reduced considerably from 2020 when average debt was $9,368.
- Credit Scores: Maryland’s residents had an average FICO credit score of 712 at the end of 2020, according to CNBC.
- Bankruptcy and Foreclosures: Maryland ranks sixth in the nation in 2022 with one foreclosure for every 3,064 households. Maryland saw 1,710 bankruptcy filings in the first three months of 2022, 65% of which were Chapter 7. That’s an overall drop of 19% from a year prior.
- Identity Theft in Maryland: Maryland experienced the 12th highest rate of identity theft in the nation in 2021. For every 100,000 individuals in Maryland, 493 reported some form of identity theft, according to ConsumerAffairs.com.
Maryland Debt Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on debt collection in Maryland is three years. That means creditors have up to three years after your last payment to sue for unpaid debt. The exception is for debts owed on unpaid rent; creditors have four years in that case.
The time period begins on the date of the last account activity on the credit account, or when the account was written off. If a creditor receives a court judgment against you for debt, the creditor has 12 years to collect.
Note: The statute of limitations does not prevent creditors from trying to collect the debt, only from suing you if the time period has elapsed.
Credit Counseling for Maryland Residents
Marylanders unsure how to handle their debts and budget would benefit from a discussion with a nonprofit credit counselor. Credit counseling is an excellent starting point for finding the right debt-relief option.
One advantage: The service is free if the counseling for debt relief is provided by a nonprofit agency certified by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). InCharge Debt Solutions is a certified agency that provides that counseling.
A counselor will go over your situation, including your income, expenses and help you create a budget that matches them. The certified counselors will advise you which debt-relief option will solve your challenges. Counselors at nonprofit agencies are required by law to offer the best option, or risk losing their nonprofit status.
Anyone facing the challenges of debt would benefit from a free consultation, which typically lasts 45 minutes and can be done over the phone.
About The Author
Pat McManamon has been a journalist for more than 25 years. His experience has mainly been in sports, but the world of athletics requires knowledge of business and economics. He also can balance a checkbook and keep track of investments with Quicken quite adeptly. McManamon’s experience includes covering the NFL for ESPN, LeBron James for the Akron Beacon Journal and AOL Fanhouse, and the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes for the Palm Beach Post.
- DiFurio, D. (2022, August 9) Here’s How Credit Card Debt Varies by State. Retrieved from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-credit-card-debt-varies-by-state/
- Rothstein, R. (2022, August 24) Foreclosure Rates for All 50 States in July 2022. Retrieved from https://www.sofi.com/learn/content/foreclosure-rates-for-50-states/
- Jones, S. (2022, May 6) 2022 Identity theft statistics. Retrieved from https://www.consumeraffairs.com/finance/identity-theft-statistics.html
- Simons, G. (2022, July 21) Statute of Limitations on Debt in Maryland. Retrieved from https://www.solosuit.com/posts/655