Servicemembers Civil Relief Act: Critical Takeaways

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After many years of U.S. military mobilizations and overseas deployments since 2001, our clients have learned some valuable lessons about consumer rights and privileges triggered by military service. Here are some of the critical takeaways stemming from military consumer rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA):  

  • The best data retention policy assures accurate documentation of the military member’s banking and loan accounts; tracks critical notifications that start and stop the clock for reduced interest rates; and manages written and verbal correspondence concerning matters affecting military member rights under the SCRA. 
  • Military members are more familiar with their right to cap mortgage and non-mortgage interest at 6 percent during periods of active duty service. Financial institutions should adopt and enforce policies designed to monitor military accounts and confirm the applicable interest rate. The military member will typically receive the benefit of doubt when enforcing the 6 percent cap, so documentation of notice and the status of military service (active duty, activated reserve, inactive) are the keys to complying with the SCRA. 
  • Military members are equally knowledgeable of their rights against foreclosure. This is another area requiring comprehensive policies designed to avoid undue foreclosure or default against a protected military member. Financial institutions should be especially familiar with the resources and information provided here, which allows the creditor to double-check the propriety of foreclosure or default based on the military member’s active duty or reserve status.
  • Good consumer relations with military members includes familiarization with the programs made available for their benefit or to avoid financial hardships that may interfere with the military member’s ability to perform critical military duties. For example, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) may be available to military members displaced from their existing home due to orders for a permanent change of duty station. HAMP and other programs affecting military members are explained and available for military consumers to review here. Financial institutions should also become familiar with this site and similar references and resources.
  • For the most part, military members will live up to their financial obligations because they are duty-bound to do so. Financial institutions should, therefore, implement lease termination policies that favor military members and fairly consider adverse deployment circumstances. This will assure that lease termination and corresponding debt collection occurs without scrutiny. Fair policies on lease termination also carry over to implementing fair lending practices and marketing and selling financial products that match military pay grades and economic wherewithal of the service member.

Topics:  HAMP, Mortgages, Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, Veterans

Published In: Consumer Protection Updates, Finance & Banking Updates, Military Updates, Residential Real Estate Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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