When you take out federal student loans, the U.S. Department of Education is your lender. The Department pairs you with another company — a loan servicer — that handles your payments, answers questions about your student loan debt, and changes your repayment plan, if necessary. When you miss more than 270 days of payments, your loans default. And when that happens, your account is moved to a collection agency like the Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland, Inc. (PBCM).
If your defaulted student loans have been placed with PBCM, here's what you need to know about the debt collection agency.
What is The Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland?
Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland is a collection agency hired by the Department of Education to handle federal loans in default. In 2016, the company was awarded a $103.3 million contract to collect defaulted debts. The contract is set to expire on September 30, 2024.
Is Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland real? Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland is a real, legitimate debt collection agency and accounts receivable management company for banks, credit unions, financial institutions, collection agencies, property management, healthcare, and telecommunications providers. The company offers both first and third-party collections. Although PBCM claims to provide unparalleled customer service, it is not BBB accredited. However, it's not a scam company.
What Can Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland Help You With?
If the Professional Bureau of Collections is assigned your defaulted student loans, you can contact the company about the following repayment options:
- Settlement: is the only option to save collection fees and reduce some of the accrued interest. Many federal student loan settlements save the borrower about 10-15% of the current loan balance.
- Loan Consolidation: allows you to get out of default fast. You do not need good credit to qualify. Your credit score won't be checked in the application process. Instead, you're eligible to get a Direct Consolidation Loan if you're not under an active administrative wage garnishment and you have at least two loans to include in the application.
- Loan Rehabilitation: gets you out of default, qualifies you for new financial aid, and allows you to clear CAIVRSafter making 9 payments in 10 months. This program also stops wage garnishment after you make your fifth payment.
- Voluntary Repayment: does not get you out of default. Choose this option only if you're not eligible for consolidation or rehabilitation.
What PBCM Can't Help You With
Until you get your loans back into good standing, you're ineligible for:
- income-driven repayment plans
- deferment and forbearance
- new financial aid
- student loan forgiveness programs
- FHA mortgage
How to Stop a Student Loan Wage Garnishment From PBCM
Disclaimer: Although I am a student loan lawyer, this article contains general information and should not be taken as legal advice. If you want legal advice that pertains to your specific situation, you should schedule a free consultation with me.
- Gather documents: before you call, get a copy of your two most recent pay stubs and most recent federal tax return. You'll likely need that financial information if you establish a payment agreement.
- Speak with a representative: ask for your account number, how many loans you have in default, and what's your total balance.
- Learn your options: ask the representative what your options are to stop the wage garnishment. Before it starts, you may be able to negotiate a settlement, apply for loan consolidation, or enter into the loan rehabilitation program. After the garnishment starts, your options are limited to settlement and loan rehabilitation.
- Submit required documentation: if you chose loan consolidation, submit the consolidation paperwork to your loan servicer. If you chose the loan rehabilitation program, you'd need to submit and do three things: (a) the Loan Rehabilitation Income and Expense Form and proof of income; (b) schedule 9 monthly payments; and (c) sign and return the Loan Rehabilitation Agreement Letter.
- Confirm: after you submit documents and make any necessary payments, call Professional Bureau. Ask the representative if the company's received the documents, payment and if you've completed all the required steps.
How to Make Student Loan Payments With PBCM
You can make payments in the following ways:
- Phone: PBCM customer representatives can take payments using a debit card. You can set up the payments by calling the company at its phone number, 866-837-5096.
- Mail: You can mail payments for Department of Education Loans to National Payment Center, P.O. Box 790336, St Louis MO 63179-0336.
- Online: For Department of Education held loans, you can make payments at myeddebt.ed.gov.
To start making payments online, follow these three simple steps:
- Create an account on MyEdDebt. Click on "Borrower/Student" and "Create Account" to sign up for an account. The site will prompt you to enter your Social Security Number, Date of Birth, email, etc.
- Add a U.S.-based debit card. Once your account has been activated, you can make a one-time payment. The system doesn't accept credit cards or cards from foreign banks.
About Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland, Inc.
Professional Bureau of Collections was founded in 1994 in Elk Grove, California. The company also has offices in Denver, Colorado, and Richmond, Virginia. The debt collector is owned by Travis Justus.
Contact Information for PBCM
You can contact the Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland's customer service department by phone at 800-270-9685. The call center is open Monday through Thursday from 7 am to 6 pm MS, Friday from 7 am to 5 pm MST, and Saturday from 8 am to 11am MST.
You can mail general correspondence to: Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland, Inc., 5295 DTC Parkway, Greenwood Village, CO 80111.
How to Complain About PBCM
If you're having difficulty with the Professional Bureau of Collections that you've been unable to resolve, start by filing a complaint directly with the Default Resolution Group. It oversees the collection process. Call 800-621-3115.
Another option is to file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid Feedback Center.
You can also file a complaint with the Department of Education's highest customer service office, the FSA Ombudsman. Call 877-557-2575.
If your issue goes unresolved, you can also make complaints about the Professional Bureau of Collections to:
- the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- your congressional representative
- your state attorney general's office
Lastly, because PBCM is a debt collector, the company must adhere to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other consumer rights laws (e.g., no harassing phone calls. threaten to garnish wages without authority, etc.). Contact an FDCPA law firm near you to learn if you can take legal action against collection activities.
Need help with the Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland? Let's talk
If you want to go over your options, schedule a free 10-minute phone call with me. I've got years of experience helping people like you with their student loans.
Let's talk. I can help you find a way to get out of default while saving the most money and preserving your eligibility for loan forgiveness.