Home to about 6.177 million people, Maryland is the 22nd fastest-growing state in the U.S.A. (relative to population). But with high growth comes an increased cost of living and the potential for more consumer debt.
Around 32% of Marylanders have some kind of debt in collections with a median value of $1,610 per person. Along with this, 20.3% of residents live in poverty — this is noticeably higher than the national poverty rate, which is 11.6%.
If you’re a Maryland resident seeking economic help or debt relief services, here are your best options.
Maryland debt statistics
Here are the most recent Maryland debt statistics to give you an idea of what many residents of the Old Line State are facing:
- Average household debt: $75,460
- Average student loan debt: $42,861
- Average credit score: 716
- Median mortgage payment: $1,987
- Bankruptcies in 2021: 1,710
- Personal income/Annual mean wage: $65,900
- Child poverty: 13.8%
- Unemployment: 4.3%
Debt collection laws in Maryland
Maryland has its own state laws regarding debt collection, namely:
- Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act: This Act states what creditors and third-party debt collectors can and cannot do when trying to collect a debt. For example, it prohibits them from using threats, deception, or abusive tactics. It applies to any business, legal entity, individual, or estate trying to collect a debt.
- Operation Corrupt Collector: In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) implemented this federal-state law to crack down on debt collectors using scare tactics to try to collect on non-existent debts.
Both of these laws add a lot more protection to Maryland residents since they target creditors and debt collectors alike.
The state also follows the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which applies to debt collectors in all 50 states. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using unfair, deceptive, or illegal practices to collect money. It also regulates how and when a debt collector can contact you about an existing debt.
Debt relief options for Maryland residents
If you’re seeking debt relief in Maryland but aren’t sure where to start, here are your options:
- Debt settlement: If you have high amounts of unmanageable debt, the process of debt settlement could help. Through it, you may be able to negotiate with your creditors to reduce how much you owe on a specific debt.
- Debt consolidation loans: A debt consolidation loan is a loan (usually low-interest) that lets you combine several high-interest debts into one account with one monthly payment.
- Debt management plan: Offered through credit counseling agencies, DMPs are three- to five-year plans that can help you manage and pay off unsecured debts over time. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get lower interest rates or monthly payments.
- DIY plans: DIY debt relief is another way to settle debts for a smaller amount so you can pay them off and get things on track financially. If you go this route, you’ll need good negotiation skills and some persistence.
- Bankruptcy: Filing for bankruptcy is generally considered a last resort, but it could give you a fresh start if you’re drowning in debt. Consult an attorney about whether you should file, and whether you’re eligible for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Debt settlement in Maryland
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, can’t keep up with monthly debt payments, or are using expensive credit cards or payday loans for regular expenses, debt settlement could help.
It’s possible to settle your debts on your own, but most people go through a debt settlement agency. Someone from the agency will work with your creditors to try to lower how much you owe on your eligible debts.
While they do this, you’ll typically need to do the following:
- Stop using any enrolled credit cards (you may get to keep one for emergencies).
- Quit making payments on the enrolled debts to increase your chances of success. This could result in late fees or cause more damage to your credit score.
- Pay a set amount into a secured account each month until you have enough to pay off the remainder of your settled debt.
Debt settlement typically takes three or four years to complete. Done correctly, the process could reduce your existing debt by 50% or more (after agency fees).
A debt settlement plan could help you pay off many unsecured consumer debts, including:
- Credit cards
- Department store cards
- Personal loans
- Old judgments
- Student loans in default
- Other unsecured debts
Maryland debt relief companies
If you’re looking for debt relief in Maryland, whether it’s through debt settlement, credit counseling, or something else, these companies could help:
- ClearONe Advantage LLC.: Broom Factory, 3500 Boston St Suite 413, Baltimore, MD 21224; (888) 768-4767
- American Credit Card Solutions: 5275 Westview Dr. STE 120, Frederick, MD 21703; (877) 820-2954
- Debt Rx: 5257 Buckeystown Pike #127, Frederick, MD 21704; (866) 601-7857
- American Credit Card Solutions: 5275 Westview Dr. STE 120, Frederick, MD 21703; (877) 820-2954
Debt settlement attorneys
These Maryland debt settlement attorneys may be able to assist you with finding the debt relief you need:
- Kindlund Legal LLC.: 6701 Democracy Blvd Suite 300, Bethesda, MD 20817; (240) 539-9393
- Kurland Law Group: 211 Jersey Ln, Rockville, MD 20850; (301) 835-2077
- Burns Law Firm LLC.: 6303 Ivy Ln, Greenbelt, MD 20770; (301) 441-8780
- Grafton Firm, LLC.: 920 Providence Rd #400a, Towson, MD 21286; (401) 505-0413
- Steiner Law Group, LLC.: 115 Sudbrook Ln Suite 206, Baltimore, MD 21208; (410) 670-7060
- Nager Law Group: 10015 Old Columbia Rd # B215, Columbia, MD 21046; (443) 492-9003
Debt relief resources for residents facing hardship
Maryland offers many debt relief programs and other resources to help residents facing economic hardship. This includes state and federally-funded programs that can help with things like:
- Mortgage or rental assistance
- Utility bill payments/energy costs
- Childcare assistance
- Healthcare costs
- Legal assistance
The state also has food banks and food pantries to help combat hunger or poor nutrition. Around 543,650 Marylanders face hunger, 167,020 of whom are children, making these resources essential to their daily needs.
Here are some of the biggest food pantries and banks in Maryland:
- Maryland Food Bank: 2200 Halethorpe Farms Road Baltimore, MD 21227; (410) 737-8282
- Howard County Food Bank: 9385 Gerwig Ln J, Columbia, MD 21046; (410) 313-6185
- Manna Food Center: 9311 Gaither Rd, Gaithersburg, MD 20877; (301) 424-1130
- Maryland Food Bank – Eastern Shore: 28500 Owens Branch Rd, Salisbury, MD 21801; (410) 742-0050
- City of Frederick Maryland Food Bank: 14 E All Saints St, Frederick, MD 21701; (301) 600-3972
- Nourish Now: 397 E Guide Dr, Rockville, MD 20850; (301) 330-0222
- St. Camillus Food Pantry: 1600 St Camillus Dr, Silver Spring, MD 20903; (301) 960-8903
- Southern Maryland Food Bank: 22 Irongate Dr, Waldorf, MD 20602; (301) 274-0695
Not seeing what you need? Foodpantries.org has a comprehensive list of food pantries in the state.
Income and employment in Maryland
In April 2020, the unemployment rate in Maryland was 9.5%. Since then, it’s dropped to 4.3%. This is a major improvement, but it’s still higher than the national average unemployment rate, which is currently 3.7%.
Maryland ranks 45th in terms of job creation with 2,757.20 (in the thousands) of new jobs. The state does not have right-to-work laws.
However, Maryland is an employment-at-will state, meaning an employer can legally terminate any employee for any reason (unless they have a contract stating otherwise). This could lead to less job security.
How to apply for unemployment benefits in Maryland
To apply for unemployment benefits in Maryland, you’ll need to use the Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance BEACON System. Through this system, you can file a weekly claim certification to continue receiving benefits. You can also monitor existing claims and determine your continued eligibility.
To get started, create a BEACON account and follow the instructions. You’ll need to provide certain information, including your:
- Social Security Number
- Employers’ information for the past 18 months (ex. company name, first and last day of work, income, etc.)
- Citizenship and military status
- Full name, date of birth, and SSN for any dependents
- Former federal government employee status (if applicable)
Due to federal requirements, you may need to reapply for benefits every few months. This can happen if you’re currently receiving benefits and have earned income in the past two quarters. You’ll also need to reapply after the current benefits year ends — that is, 52 weeks after your first claim begins.
Banking and taxes in Maryland
Maryland’s individual income tax ranges from 2% (for the first $1,000 of taxable income) and caps out at 5.75% (on amounts exceeding $250,000). For joint filers, the 5.75% income tax applies to amounts exceeding $300,000.
Each of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City also have a local income tax. The exact rate varies but is calculated as a percentage of your taxable income. It ranges from 2.25% to 3.20%.
The state also offers certain tax benefits to taxpayers who are:
- 65+ years old
- Low-income families
- Families currently paying for childcare
- Military retirees
In the USA, around 4.5% of people are unbanked, meaning they don’t have a checking or savings account. In Maryland, about 2.5% of people — or 154,425 residents — are unbanked.
Maryland housing market
The average home value in Maryland is $406,314, according to Zillow. This is a 7.3% increase from last year. In contrast, the average home value in the country is 357,589. The owner-occupied housing rate is 67.3%.
Maryland’s Homeowners Assistance Fund has various programs to help homeowners who are struggling to make mortgage payments due to COVID-19. The Fund also offers weatherization, legal services, and housing counseling.
In Maryland, the median mortgage payment is about $2,015. Rent prices depend on the city, apartment size, and overall quality. For example, a 1,078-square-foot apartment could cost anywhere from $1,001 to $1,969, on average.
Retirement in Maryland
The average Marylander has $485,501 saved for retirement. To live comfortably, the average resident should have closer to $989,462.
Average Maryland insurance premiums
The average cost of car insurance in Maryland is $1,931 a year for full coverage or $836 for minimum coverage. The average home insurance premium is about $1,231 for a $250,000 dwelling.
Payday lending status in Maryland: Prohibited
Payday lending is prohibited in Maryland, as it is in many other states.
- Maximum loan amount: N/A
- Maximum Interest Rate (APR): 33%
- Minimum loan term: N/A
- Maximum loan term: N/A
Statute of limitations on debt in Maryland
The statute of limitations is the period in which a debt collector or creditor can sue you for what you owe. In Maryland, it’s typically three years on oral, written, and open contracts. It’s six years on promissory notes, however.
There is no statute of limitations on tax-related debt in Maryland.
State hardship programs
Maryland’s many hardship programs can help if you’re struggling with the cost of living or other expenses. These include:
- Choice Housing Project: The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federally-funded, local program that helps low-income residents find affordable rental housing in the state. It also provides rent subsidies to eligible families, the elderly, and the disabled.
- Housing Repair and Grants Program: Maryland offers many loans and grants to help residents afford home repairs and other necessary improvements. The state also has rehabilitation programs, such as the Indoor Plumbing Program, Special Targeted Applicant Rehabilitation Program, and Maryland Housing Rehabilitation Program.
- Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: Low-income households may qualify for assistance with their energy bills.
- Water Assistance Program: Low-income households may also be eligible for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). This program helps families afford their bills and retain access to safe drinking water.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Uninsured children up to the age of 19 years old may qualify for assistance with medical costs. CHIP can help with things like doctor visits, immunizations, prescription medication, lab work, mental health services, and hospice care.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP helps subsidize the cost of food for low-income households to ensure they get the nutrition they need.
- WIC: If you’re pregnant or have young children and have limited income, you may qualify for WIC. This program includes free healthy food, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and more.
- Assistance for Women: Maryland offers multiple programs and resources to help women in violent or other abusive situations. The state also provides information on your legal rights in such situations as domestic violence, marriage, and divorce.
- Organization for Refugees: For those seeking asylum in Maryland, there are many services available. These programs can help with things like English language and job training, youth education, and economic support.
Help for Veterans
Maryland is home to an estimated 377,772 veterans, as of 2022. The state’s Department of Veteran Affairs has many resources to help veterans who need help with things like unemployment, homelessness, and other economic hardships. Along with this, there are federal benefits for veterans seeking education, home loans, vocational training, healthcare, and more.
Facilities in Maryland
Maryland has many VA facilities throughout the state, including:
- Baltimore VA Maryland Medical Center: 10 North Greene Street Baltimore, MD 21201-1524; (410) 605-7000
- Perry Point VA Medical Center: 361 Boiler House Road, Building 361 Perry Point, MD 21902-1103; (410) 642-2411
- Loch Raven VA Medical Center: 3901 The Alameda, Baltimore, MD 21218-2100; (410) 605-7650
- Baltimore Veterans Benefits Administration (Regional Office): (800) 827-1000
- Eastern Baltimore County VA Outpatient Clinic – VA Maryland Health Care System: 5235 King Ave Suite 200, Rosedale, MD 21237; (443) 730-2020
- Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs: 16 Francis St #4, Annapolis, MD 21401; (410) 260-3838
- Department of Veteran Affairs: 7905 Malcolm Rd, Clinton, MD 20735; (301) 856-7173
- Fort Detrick VA Clinic: 1433 Porter St Building 1433, Frederick, MD 21702; (800) 817-3807
For a comprehensive directory, check the official VA website.
Employment resources for Veterans
Here are some of Maryland’s main employment resources for veterans and their families:
- CareerOneStop offers career opportunities, as well as an online search portal
- MilitaryHire.com works with veterans (and their spouses) to find civilian jobs that lets them apply their military skills
- VeteranRecruiting.com has several virtual career fairs throughout the year
- Helmets to Hardhats is a nonprofit organization that helps veterans and military personnel move into civilian life
- Hiring Our Heroes offers various fellowship programs, vocational training opportunities, and hiring events
- My Next Move connects veterans with companies that let them use their skills in the civilian world
- Warriors to Work is an organization that connects veterans to prospective employers
The bottom Line
Maryland debt relief is available to residents. Options include debt settlement, debt consolidation programs, credit counseling, and more. Maryland also has state and federal laws that protect consumers from deceptive or illegal debt collection practices. Whatever you need, these programs and resources can help you — and your family — get a better handle on your debts and get back on track.
The statute of limitations on most debts is three years. However, a debt collector may still attempt to collect on debts after the statute expires. They just cannot take you to court.
It typically starts on the date of your last payment, or on the date of your most recent missed payment.
In Maryland, you are usually only responsible for a spouse’s debt if you agreed to be liable for it with them.