Abusive debt collection practices can contribute to personal bankruptcies, employment and marital instability,
invasion of privacy, mental anguish and emotional distress. Even in times of economic prosperity, it may be difficult to meet certain
financial obligations due to a sudden loss of income, coping with a catastrophic injury, or other adverse situations. Maryland has been
at the forefront of protecting consumers against abusive debt collection practices by licensing collection agencies and enforcing
the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act.
Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act1 ("the Act") provides recourse to Maryland consumers whose rights under the Act
have been violated. Please be advised that the Act does not apply to any commercial transaction or transactions entered to
carry on a business interest. Also, the collection of certain obligations owed to a state or the federal government may
preempt the law. Under the Act a collector who violates any provision of the Maryland law is liable for damages proximately
caused by the violation, including damages for emotional distress or mental anguish suffered with or without accompanying
Types of debts covered under the law: Consumer transactions involving a person seeking or acquiring real or personal property,
services, money or credit for personal, family, or household purpose.
Types of individuals subject to the law: Any person collecting or attempting to collect an alleged debt arising out of consumer
transaction. This includes creditors and or any person hired as an employee of the creditor, and third party collection organizations and
attorneys who collect debts for another.
Types of collection acts prohibited: In collecting or attempting to collect an alleged debt, a collector may not:
- Use or threaten force or violence.
- Threaten criminal prosecution, unless the transaction is a violation of a criminal statute.
- Disclose or threaten to disclose any information which affects your reputation for credit worthiness with knowledge that the
information is false.
- Contact your employer with respect to a delinquent indebtedness before obtaining a final judgment against you.
- Disclose or threaten to disclose to a person other than yourself, or your spouse (or parent if the debtor is a minor) information
which affects your reputation, whether or not for credit worthiness, with knowledge that the other person does not have a legitimate
business need for the information.
- Communicate with you or a person related to you at unusual hours or in any other manner as reasonably can be expected to abuse or
- Use obscene or grossly abusive language in communicating with you or a person related to you.
- Claim, attempt, or threaten to enforce a right with knowledge that the right does not exist.
- Use a communication which simulates legal or judicial process or gives the appearance of being authorized, issued or approved by a
government, government agency or lawyer when it is not.
Inquire if a collection agency is licensed in Maryland
File a complaint with the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Board
To File a Complaint at the Federal Level
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") is granted authority to issue regulations and
guidance related to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB was created with debt
collection activities being one of the areas under its jurisdiction. The CFPB also published action letters for consumers to
consider using in corresponding with debt collectors. The letters address the following situations:
File a complaint with the CFPB
Or you can write the CFPB at the following address:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
P.O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa 52244
Or Fax (855) 237-2392
Phone Number: (855) 411-CFPB (2372)
8am-8pm, Eastern, Monday-Friday
The Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission also collects complaints about abusive collection agency practices and enforces compliance with the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your complaints can help detect patterns of wrong-doing, and lead to investigations and prosecutions.
The FTC enters all complaints it receives into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database that is used by thousands of civil and criminal
law enforcement authorities worldwide.
The FTC does not resolve individual consumer complaints. The FTC has published several articles on the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (FDCPA). View these articles.
a complaint with the FTC online
Or you can write the FTC at the following address:
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Toll-free helpline: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
Annotated, Commercial Law, Title 14, Subtitle 2 [Note: to access the Maryland Code Annotated
from this link, select the "Maryland Code" folder, then select the individual folders or links provided to delve into the volumes, chapters,
and/or sections of the publication.]