Q: How to stop a student loan garnishment from the Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland, Inc.?

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You have three options to stop a student loan garnishment from the Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland, Inc. from starting:

  1. Settlement
  2. Consolidation and
  3. Loan rehabilitation

If the garnishment order has already started (or if the garnishment order has already been sent to your employer) you have two options to stop the garnishment:

  1. Settlement and
  2. Loan rehabilitation

If you can't afford a settlement and aren't eligible for loan rehabilitation, then the only way to stop the garnishment is to file bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy won't automatically get rid of your student loan debt, but bankruptcy will stop a student loan garnishment.

What is the Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland (PBCM)?

The Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland is a full-service accounts receivable management company that handles 1st party collections and 3rd party collections for credit unions, healthcare organizations, etc.

Basically, they're a debt collection agency.

PBCM isn't located in Maryland. Instead, their headquarters is in Denver, Colorado.

What matters to federal student loan borrowers is this:

PBCM did not buy your federal student loans. The Department of Education did not sell your loans to them for pennies on the dollar. Instead, the Department hired PBCM to be the debt collector for defaulted federal student loans.

Once you're out of default and back in good standing, your loans will return to a regular loan servicer.

Options for getting out of student loan default

You have three options for getting out of default and back into good standing:

  1. Settlement
  2. Consolidation
  3. Loan rehabilitation

Settlement is an option. But depending on your balance, be prepared to pay. Under the current Department of Education guidelines, your settlement will be for about 85-90% of the current balance minus collection fees.

Before the Trump administration took office, you could present a discretionary compromise/non-standard compromise and have a reasonable shot at getting your offer accepted. That's no longer the case.

Given how expensive settlements are, most student loan borrowers get out of default either by consolidating their loans or entering into the loan rehabilitation program.

Consolidation gets you out of default by consolidating one loan with another loan to create a brand new loan.

The loan rehabilitation program gets you out of default by requiring you to make 9 monthly payments of an amount approved by the Department of Education.

How your monthly payment is calculated

Under the loan rehabilitation program, your monthly payment is first calculated using the adjusted gross income and number of dependents on your federal tax return.

The representative will ask if you can afford that payment. If you can, the inquiry ends there, and the rep will send you a loan rehabilitation agreement letter to sign and return.

But if you can't afford that payment, you can get a monthly payment as low as $5 by providing your current monthly income and expenses, and your current family size, which may be more than the number of dependents you claimed on your tax return.

The PBCM representative will use the information you provided to complete the Loan Rehabilitation Income and Expense Form.

Most of my clients who go through this process end up with a payment of less than $100 per month. And that includes my clients who earn over $100 thousand per year.

COVID-19/Coronavirus considerations

The federal government has suspended collections on defaulted student loans owned by the Department of Education.
Suspended collection activities include:

  • wage garnishment
  • tax refund offset and
  • Social Security offset

In addition to suspending collections, the Department will also cover the payments you're supposed to make under your loan rehab agreement.

The Department will do all of those things through September 30, 2020.

After that, the collection activities will resume.

How to file a complaint against PBCM

As a debt collector, the Bureau is not allowed to, among other things, make harassing phone calls to you, lie to you about your options, etc.

If that happens, they may have violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

And if that happens, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You could also hire an FDCPA law firm to sue them for damages.

Contact information for PBCM

Phone number: (844) 225-5501

Fax number: (303) 488-2505

Mailing address:

Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland Inc.
5295 DTC Parkway
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

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