The Consumer Protection Project (CPP) provides assistance to Maryland consumers who have been sued by creditors in District Court collection actions. Volunteer lawyers help consumers assert defenses in court, negotiate settlement agreements with creditors, and represent consumers in litigation.  Law student volunteers may assist with client intakes, legal research, and issue-spotting. Volunteer lawyers have access to malpractice insurance, mentorship, email discussion listservs, sample forms, and law student support.

Volunteer Requirements:

  • Lawyers must be barred in Maryland and in good standing (there is no minimum experience level),
  • Complete a basic consumer protection training course; and
  • Accept pro bono cases and/or participate in District Court Consultations, at which consumers receive free brief legal advice.
  • Law students must be admitted to the Maryland bar via Rule 16 and must participate via an approved clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law or the University of Baltimore School of Law.
Consumer Protection

To become a volunteer in Project, complete the online Basic Training Registration Form.

Please contact Sydney Dunning, Esq., Consumer Protection Project Manager, at sdunning@probonomd.org or 443-703-3049.

CPP is a joint venture of the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC), Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, Mid-Shore Pro Bono, and Montgomery County Bar Foundation.

See below for information about some of the most serious problems facing Maryland consumers:

Debt Buyers

Tens of thousands of Marylanders are sued each year by companies alleging consumers owe debts the companies claim to have purchased from original creditors.

The Structure and Practices of the Debt Buying Industry, FTC, 2013

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) presents extensive research regarding “debt buyers,” companies that purchase old debts at steep discounts and then move to collect against consumers. The FTC concludes that while this practice helps creditors recoup losses and feel more comfortable lending, it also creates potentially exploitative circumstances for consumers.

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Defending Junk Debt Buyer Lawsuits, Peter A. Holland, 2012

Law professor and consumer advocate Peter Holland shares his experiences and suggestions for defeating debt buyer cases in court.

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The One Hundred Billion Dollar Problem, Peter A. Holland, 2011

Peter Holland presents a review of the structure of the debt buyer industry and calls rulemakers to action to protect consumers.

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Bartlett v. Portfolio Recovery, Maryland Court of Appeals, 2014

This 2014 Maryland Court of Appeals case, brought by two PBRC clients, holds that the rules of evidence have no application in small-claims court.

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Debt Collection

An in-depth look at the debt collection industry and its problem practices.

Repairing a Broken System, FTC, 2010

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) reports that protections for consumers are inadequate in both litigation and arbitration, the two primary methods creditors use to collect debts.

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"Stopping Debt Prisons," Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition

Most people may believe that debtors’ prisons are a thing of the past, but each year Maryland courts issue thousands of “body attachments” (arrest orders) in debt lawsuits. Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (“MCRC”) shares some information about this problem.

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Predatory Lending

The latest in fraud and unfair business practices.

Risky Business-- Buying a Car in Maryland: Auto Fraud and Policy Choices, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, 2013

This report by Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (“MCRC”) gives an overview of different types of auto fraud, including “yo-yo” sales, dealer kickbacks, and more.

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Payday Loans Rule Proposal, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 2015

Consumers in particularly dire straits may turn to payday loans for relief: small, short-term loans borrowed against an expected paycheck. These high-interest loans often prove impossible to repay and end up being rolled over into new loans, creating an inescapable cycle of debt.

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