Russ Thompson Managing Partner Thompson Consumer Law Group
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Soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines and other servicemen and servicewomen aren’t just heroes, they’re consumers as well. They buy homes, vehicles, computers, and other essential household products. In exchange for these brave men and women putting their lives on the line to protect our freedom, we owe them extra consideration and protections while they are in active duty and beyond.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) is one such protection and applies to servicemen and servicewomen (“servicemembers”) on active duty in the United States Armed Forces. It also applies to members of the National Guard and reservists who are called into federal active duty for thirty consecutive days or more. State laws may provide extra measures was well.
The SCRA affects certain financial obligations for servicemembers, including creating caps on interest rates, protections against repossession and evictions, and even rights to terminate certain consumer contracts like automobile leases and cell phones. Retaliation or discrimination for asserting your SCRA rights is also illegal. If you think your rights under the SCRA may have been violated, contact our offices or your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office.
For example, the SCRA allows servicemembers to cap interest rates on most of their preexisting loans or obligations (not new) at 6% per year while on active duty, including mortgages, credit cards, car loans, many installment loans, and even some student loans. All interest above the capped rate is completely forgiven during the covered period, and does not accrue or become due after service.
Servicemembers are also protected from creditors repossessing personal property purchased or leased before entering service, including automobiles. Servicemembers and their dependents are likewise protected from eviction without a court order. The SCRA also allows active duty servicemembers to terminate certain consumer contracts like residential leases, automobile leases, and cell phone contracts without early termination charges. The SCRA affords homeowners protection as well. These protections all require certain conditions be satisfied before they can be invoked, so if you are on active duty, it important to know your SCRA rights and how this law protects you.
Anytime you think your SCRA rights may have been violated:
We are committed to helping protect active duty armed force members. If you are a servicemember and think your SCRA rights have been violated, please contact us to evaluate your rights at no cost. To do so, we need to review the following information:
- A detailed description of your situation and the facts involved;
- All documents related to the loan, lease, credit card, or other obligation at issue (including the original agreement(s) and any accounts statements or bills);
- Copies of all communications (including letters, emails, texts, voicemails, and phone conversations) between you and the lender or creditor;
- Copies of your active duty orders; and,
- Any other documents you feel may be relevant to, or support your claim.