Record-high unemployment and average credit card debt of nearly $10,000 has put many Maryland residents in the uncomfortable position of seeking debt relief.

Help is available through government and private agencies – most notably, nonprofit credit counseling agencies like InCharge Debt Solutions – that can help financially distressed consumers get back on their feet.

But it won’t be easy.

Maryland saw unemployment rates spike to 10.1% in April of 2020 before dropping to 6.8% by the end of the year. The average credit card debt in the state was $9,368.

One good point from 2020 was the fact that Maryland consumers knocked an average of $552 off their credit card debt, the fifth most of any state in the country.

Debt Relief Options for Maryland Residents

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 amount each month.

You can apply online or over the phone. Credit score is not a factor.

Some other assistance programs available include:

  • Debt settlement — This option can help people who are struggling to make even the minimum payments on credit card debt. With a debt settlement plan, a credit card company agrees to accept less than what is owed. This plan can be beneficial, but is a risky option that will be on your credit report for seven years and lower your credit score.
  • Debt consolidation loans — If you have a good credit score, this could very well be the best option available. If your credit score is high enough, you could receive a low-interest loan to pay off your high-interest credit card debt.
  • Bankruptcy — This option can wipe out your 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.
  • Do it yourself plans — You also can consider a “DIY” program with a debt management template set up by InCharge Debt Solutions. This could be the best option for those looking for plans that best fit their economic problems and their personal finances.

Maryland Debt Resources

Low-income or working poor residents can find financial assistance for paying expenses, including heating bills or rent. There are also social services that 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, Medicaid and Medicare questions and assistance with prescription drug costs.
  • Financial Assistance in A Crisis: Maryland’s Salvation Army has an assistance center in every county in Maryland. 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 will help families with paying their monthly mortgage costs if they have fallen on hard times financially or have been severely impacted by COVID-19. Fannie Mae can also offer help to those citizens seeking mortgage relief and deferral payment plans.
  • Free Legal Advice: Maryland Legal Aid has helped more than 50,000 citizens in the past 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

Maryland ranks as the nation’s seventh-richest state when factoring in things such as per capita income, expenditures, poverty rates and spending, according to chamberofcommerce.org.

Here is a look at some of the debts that are weighing on the average person in Maryland:

  • 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 $72,310 in debt, according to The Economic Secretariat.
  • Mortgage Debt: The average mortgage debt in Maryland is $249,472, which is skewed slightly by the fact that many of the state’s wealthy suburbs are located just outside Washington, D.C.
  • Student Loan Debt: Maryland ranks eighth in the United States in terms of student loan debt. The Class of 2019 graduate in Maryland carries an average of $32,165 in student debt.
  • Auto Loan Debt: In Maryland, the per capita auto loan amount per citizen is $5,110.
  • Credit Card Debt: Maryland ranks fifth in credit card debt at $9,368. That is up significantly from 2018 when it was $7,913.
  • Credit Scores: Maryland’s residents have an average credit score of 688 in 2020.
  • Bankruptcy and Foreclosures: Maryland ranks 18th in the nation in total bankruptcy filings for 2020 with 11,122.
  • Identity Theft in Maryland: Maryland experiences the 11th highest rate of identity theft in the nation. For every 100,000 individuals in Maryland, 91 of them will be victims of ID theft, according for TopConsumerReviews.com.

Sources

N.A. (ND) Homeless Prevention Program. Retrieved from https://dhs.maryland.gov/weathering-tough-times/homelessness-prevention-program/

N.A. (2020, September 29) Student Loan Debt By School and State in 2020. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/careersandeducation/student-loan-debt-by-school-and-state-in-2020/ar-BB19xyNG

Jones, J. (2020, January 8) Average Car Payment, Loan Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.lendingtree.com/auto/debt-statistics/

N.A. (ND) What Are The Best Identity Theft Protection Services in Maryland. Retrieved from https://www.topconsumerreviews.com/best-identity-theft-products/states/maryland.php

Brown, M. (2020, August 8) Student Loan Debt By School, By State. Retrieved from https://lendedu.com/student-loan-debt-by-school-by-state-2020/