How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection in Maryland (2020 Guide)

George Simons

May 19, 2020

Summary: Do you reside in Maryland and need assistance in responding to a debt collection lawsuit? This guide will walk you through the process

If you were served with a writ of summons for debt collection in Maryland, your mind has probably been inundated with questions and concerns. You may be feeling scared and anxious about the future. SoloSuit is here to help.

Below, you will find helpful information and advice on what is needed to answer a summons for debt collection in Maryland. This list includes information specific to debt collection lawsuits in Maryland, such as deadlines and forms specific to the State of Maryland.

Maryland Deadline for Answering a Debt Collection Writ of Summons

If you disagree with the claim and/or the amount owed, the deadline to file an answer depends largely on how you want to respond.

If you disagree with the alleged amount owed, you should mail a Notice of Intention to Defend to the court. This notice can be found at the bottom half of the Writ of Summons. Therefore, if you want to defend yourself in court, you need to cut out and mail the Notice of Intention to Defend to the court. The court's mailing address is located at the top of the summons. If you reside in Maryland, make sure to mail the notice within 15 days from the date you receive the summons. If you reside outside of Maryland, you have 60 days to file the notice.

If you want to answer the debt collection summon by filing a counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party claim, make sure to file these responses within 10 days of the deadline for filing the Notice of Intention to Defend.

What debt collectors can't do in Maryland

In order to respond effectively to a debt collection case in Maryland, you should have a general understanding of the laws and regulations governing this type of civil action. In Maryland, the law governing debt collection cases is Commercial Law §§ 14-201 through 14-204 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. These statutory provisions contain an array of limitations on what debt collection companies can do, and how they can attempt to collect on an alleged outstanding stand. So, debt collectors

  • Can't use or threaten to use force or violence to collect an alleged outstanding debt;
  • Can't threaten criminal prosecution;
  • Can't disclose or threaten to disclose information that will negatively impact your reputation;
  • Can't contact your employer;
  • Can't attempt to contact you during "unusual hours" (extremely early in the morning, late at night, etc.); and
  • Can't use obscene or grossly abusive language while communicating with you.

Maryland Answer to Summons Forms

Maryland tries to make it relatively easy for a defendant to answer a summons. Here is a copy of the Maryland Writ of Summons. At the bottom of the summons is the "Notice of Intent to Defend." You should fill out this portion of the summons and mail it back to the court.

Counterclaim Filing Fees for Maryland

There is no filing fee if you choose to answer the summons by sending a copy of the Notice of Intent to Defend to the court. The only out-of-pocket expense would be the cost of a stamp. However, if you decide to file a counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party claim, the filing fee is $18.

(What are the biggest debt collection companies in the United States? Find out here.)

Ways You Can Respond to a Debt Collection Case in Maryland

If you are served with a Writ of Summons, there are multiple ways in which you can respond. If you disagree with the allegations contained within the complaint, you could respond in the following ways:

  • Defend yourself in court;
  • File a cross claim, counter claim or third party claim;
  • Assert that the Writ of Summons was not served properly; or
  • Simply ignore the debt collection case.

(How long does it take for a debt collector to respond to a debt validation letter? Get the answer here.)

If you want to defend yourself in court, here are a few options.

File a Notice of Intention to Defend

The best way to respond to a debt collection case in Maryland is to file a Notice of Intention to Defend, which is located on the bottom portion of the Writ of Summons. The Notice of Intention to Defend includes a section where you can explain why you should not be required to pay the alleged amount owed to the plaintiff. If you decide to respond in this manner, you should get to work right away in crafting a viable defense in court during trial. This means compiling relevant evidence and exhibits. You also have the option of calling witnesses during the trial. Though, if you want to have witnesses appear at the trial, you need to contact the clerk's office at least two weeks before the trial date.

(Why debt collectors block their phone numbers)

Filing a Countersuit

Another option for responding to a debt collection case is by filing a lawsuit of your own against the debt collection company. If you file your own claim in the same action, your complaint is referred to as a “counterclaim." A counterclaim basically means you are alleging that you do not owe any money to the plaintiff and, in fact, the plaintiff owes you money.

Assert You Were Not Properly Served with the Writ of Summons

In Maryland, a Writ of Summons needs to be properly served in accordance with state law. In some instances, a debt collection lawsuit is not properly served or was improperly served. If you find yourself in this situation, you can raise this issue with the court to challenge the viability of the lawsuit. You can file a pretrial request that the case be dismissed for improper service or raise improper service during trial.

Ignore the Complaint and Writ of Summons

You have the option to simply not respond to the Writ of Summons. You can ignore the summons and go about your daily life. However, if you choose this path, it is important to understand that a judge will likely enter a judgment against you: this means you'll lose. Once an adverse judgment has been entered against you, it empowers the debt collection company to garnish your wages and take other steps to collect on the amount owed.

Research Viable Affirmative Defenses

If you decide to contest the debt collection lawsuit, invest the time in researching affirmative defenses. You may be wondering, “what is an affirmative defense?” Well, it is essentially an argument you make before the court, or in a motion, that the debt collection company suing you does not have a viable case. Here are some examples of affirmative defenses:

  • The account alleged to be delinquent is not your account
  • The contract was already canceled. Therefore you don't owe the creditor anything.
  • The debt collector's lawsuit was filed outside the statute of limitations. It is extremely important to affirmatively raise the statute of limitations since the court will not know the statute of limitations expired. The responsibility is on you to advocate for yourself and assert these affirmative defenses. It is possible to show the court that the statute of limitations expired by introducing a copy of the debt on your credit report as evidence.

These are a few of the many affirmative defenses. However, it is important to note that simply being unable to pay back your debt is not typically a viable legal defense.

(How to stop receiving calls from Covington Credit)

If you need assistance on how to best respond to a debt collection lawsuit, consider utilizing SoloSuit. What is SoloSuit? Take a moment to review these FAQs to learn more.

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Maryland

There are specific time limits, set forth by statute, that govern the viability of a debt collection lawsuit. Basically, if a debt collection lawsuit is filed after the specific time limit expired, that lawsuit will likely be barred from moving forward. These laws are known as statute of limitations.

In Maryland, the statute of limitations for a debt collection lawsuit requires that a civil suit be filed within three years for an alleged debt based on a written contract and three years for "open accounts" (credit cards).

If a debt collector is attempting to collect an alleged amount owed on a credit card, it means the date of the last activity (the date of last payment) on the account or the date the account was written off as a bad debt was at least three years ago. As a result, if your account is older than three years, it is possible to assert the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense you can raise the statute of limitations as a defense to the complaint.

Maryland Statute of Limitations on Debt

Debt Type

Deadline in Years

Oral

3

Written

3

Promissory

6

Open

3

Credit Card

3

Judgements

12


Source: Findlaw


Learn more about how the statute of limitations can be used in a debt collection lawsuit here.

If you need assistance defending yourself from a debt collection lawsuit, there are organizations in Maryland who are ready and able to provide assistance. For example, Maryland Legal Aid is the largest provider of free, direct legal services in the State of Maryland and has 12 office locations in Baltimore City and in Maryland's 23 counties.

In addition to Maryland Legal Aid, there is also the Debtor Assistance Project, which is a collaborative legal clinic featuring an innovative partnership between the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland and members of the legal community in Maryland. The Debtor Assistance Project provides people with the opportunity to meet with a volunteer bankruptcy attorney for a free half-hour case review. If you would like to schedule an appointment with a volunteer attorney through the Debtor Assistant Project, you need to schedule an appointment by phone. You can also meet with a volunteer attorney in person at the following locations:

Baltimore Federal Courthouse
101 W. Lombard Street, 1st Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201

Easton-Office of MidShore Pro Bono
8 S. West Street
Easton, MD 21601

Greenbelt Federal Courthouse
6500 Cherrywood Lane, 1st Floor
Greenbelt, MD 20770

Maryland Courts by Case Type

In Maryland, debt collection lawsuits can be litigated in one of two types of courts – General District Court or Circuit Court. General District Courts possess exclusive jurisdiction over any civil claim seeking $5,000 or less. The General District Courts and Circuit Courts share jurisdiction over civil claims where the amount at issue is between $5,001 and $30,000. If the lawsuit is seeking an amount above $30,000, then it must be filed in a Circuit Court.

Key Takeaways

So, in summation, here is an overview on how to answer a summons for debt collection in Maryland.

Deadline: 15 days to mail the Notice of Intent to Defend (60 days if you do not reside in Maryland).

Use the bottom portion of the Writ of Summons, which is the formal Notice of Intent to Defend. All you need to do is fill out this bottom portion and mail it to the court.

Do these steps:

  • Decide how you want to answer the Writ of Summons, which includes mailing a Notice of Intent to Defend, filing a cross claim, filing a counterclaim, etc.
  • Review the allegations in the writ of summons and assess whether you can assert any affirmative defenses
  • Appear in court on the date and time provided by the court

Best of Luck!

Additional Resources

How to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

How to answer a summons for debt collection.

How to get back on track after a debt lawsuit.

How to Answer a Summons for Debt Collection Guides for Other States

Guides for other states

All 50 states.

  • Montana
  • NebraskaNevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming