Are you receiving phone calls from Professional Bureaus of Collections of Maryland, and wondering why they are calling? Have they sent you letters indicating that you owe them money, with no explanation?
Are you in default with a student loan debt and receiving calls from PBCM? Are you unsure how to field these calls? Or what to do with the letters, if you have any? You have a lot of questions and this guide is your answer.
In this guide, we will tell you all about PBCM, why they are calling you, allegations made against them, options that you have to stop collections on your student loans, and how to stop wage garnishments.
If you want help or you still have questions after reading this guide you can contact our office to speak with an experienced loan financial advisor who can help guide you when dealing with collection agencies.
Who Is Professional Bureau Of Collections Of Maryland (PBCM)?
Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland is a national receivable management agency established in 1994 in Elk Grove, California. They have a branch office in Virginia with their main call center still being in California. They perform collection services for various organizations including the Department of Education.
Complaints, Lawsuits, And Reviews
PBCM has had 31 complaints filed with the BBB in 3 years, 36 complaints filed with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 12 civil lawsuits and judgments filed against them. The complaints range from billing and collections practices, treatment of female employees, to harassing consumers in attempts to collect debts.
Why Is PBCM Contacting Me?
The reason that PBCM is contacting you is to collect on a student loan debt that is in default. The Department of Education turned your loans over to PBCM when attempts to resolve your loan delinquency failed.
The Department of Education contracts with several private collection agencies when their efforts to handle loan delinquencies are unsuccessful.
Can PBCM Garnish My Wages?
When you have federal student loans, the Department of Education can garnish your wages without suing you. Before any garnishments are to take effect, they are required to notify you in writing that the garnishment will be taking place and that you have options to stop the garnishment before it takes effect.
How Do I Contact PBCM?
The contact information is:
Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland, Inc.
5295 DTC Parkway
Greenwood Village, CO 80111
What Do I Do If They Are Harassing Me?
If you feel that PBCM is harassing you, the first thing you should do is file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They must enforce antitrust laws and protect consumers. As a consumer, you have rights and are protected under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act(FDCPA). After you have lodged your complaint or if you have questions about the process of filing a complaint, contact our office to speak with a debt specialist that will help you file a formal complaint.
What Are My Rights?
Under the FDCPA, debt collectors, or collection agencies such as Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland are required to abide by federal and state laws regarding the collection of debts. These rights that you as a consumer have includes the following:
- Time and place that they are allowed to contact you they are not allowed to contact you before 8 am and after 9 pm. If they are aware of not contacting you at your place of employment and fail to abide by this, they are in violation of the FDCPA.
- They are not to use deceptive, misleading, or abusive practices when they are attempting to collect a debt from you.
- If you notify PBCM in writing that you do not wish to be contacted, by law they must cease communication with you. The exceptions are to notify you that they will no longer contact you and if it is regarding a lawsuit against you.
- If they know that you are represented by an attorney, they are to refrain from contacting you and only speak with your attorney.
- They have 5 days from initial contact with you to provide you with the following information: name of the original creditor, the amount owed, inform you of your right to dispute the debt and request the name of the original creditor.
- You have 30 days to dispute the debt. If you dispute the debt, PBCM or any other collection agency must cease all collection activities, until verification of the debt has been provided to you.
PBCM has had allegations brought against them on many occasions for violating consumer rights under the FDCPA. If you are unsure if PBCM has violated your rights under the FDCPA or you have questions on how to invoke your rights under the FDCPA, contact our office to speak with a professional loan financial advisor who can assist you with dealing with agencies like Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland.
Why Are My Wages Being Garnished?
The reason that your wages are being garnished is that you defaulted on your student loans and either didn’t respond to the notice that you received from PBCM or you didn’t receive it. If you were never notified regarding the issuance of garnishment against your wages, and you need help with how to rectify the situation, contact our office to speak with one of our loan financial advisors to help you deal with your situation.
How Do I Get Them To Stop Garnishing My Wages?
To stop the garnishment you need to get your loans out of default or collections. This can be done by entering a loan rehab program. With this program, you are required to make 9 monthly payments before your loans will be taken out of default. However, on the plus side, PBCM will suspend your garnishment after you make 5 payments.
With the loan rehab program, it is possible to have the collection fees waived. These are fees that are tacked on to the balance of your loan by the Department of Education when you default on your loans. Confirmation of the waiver of collection fees should be indicated in the rehab letter when you decide to enter into the loan rehab program.
Another option that you have is to negotiate a settlement of your student loan debt. You can only use this option if your loans are in default. If you go through PBCM or any other private collection agency for a compromise it has to be a non-standard compromise, which may or may not be binding with the Department of Education. Otherwise, you need to receive prior approval from the Department of Education before a settlement with a private collection agency can be approved.
Here’s more information about the different types of settlements that you have available to you:
- Standard compromise– You pay either principal and interest or half interest or you pay 90% of principal and interest.
- Discretionary compromise– You provide an offer that is less than the
- standard compromise options, and you provide documentation as to why you cannot pay a standard compromise. The approval for this typically takes up to 120 days.
- Non-standard compromise– As previously mentioned non-standard compromises are not always binding with the Department of Education. This is a settlement that you work out with the collection agency, where the difference between the standard compromise and the settlement offer is paid out of the collection agency’s commission.
Note: If you decide to go through this route you need to understand that payment of the settlement amount is typically due within 90 days. Therefore you should only enter into a settlement agreement if you have the money to pay the settlement amount due.
How Do I Stop Collections On My Student Loan Debt?
The best way to stop garnishments from taking place is to handle the defaulted loans once you are notified that your wages will be garnished. Once an active garnishment of wages is in effect, you no longer have the option to consolidate your student loans, qualify for a deferment, or federal student aid.
If your wages are not being garnished, but they are in collections here are your other options aside from the loan rehab program and a negotiated settlement amount:
- Pay the loan balance in full, including collection fees.
- Consolidate your loans
- Enter into a voluntary repayment program.
If you are unsure of the settlement process or you have questions on the other techniques to stop collections or garnishments, you can speak with a loan financial advisor from our office to provide you with assistance.
It is a serious matter when you default on your student loans. However, when your defaulted student loans are placed with private collection agencies, you still have rights that are protected under the FDCPA and these agencies have federal and state laws that they should follow when collecting debts.
If you are contacted by PBCM, and you feel that either the debt is not valid or your rights have been violated, contact our office for assistance. We have skilled loan financial advisors that are experienced with handling defaulted student loans and collection agencies.