SCRA Protects Military Service Members
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALERT: SCRA Protects Military Service Members
Even some well-meaning Arkansans may not be aware of the protections granted to our brave military servicemen and women under the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003. Federal laws protect active-duty servicemen and women and their families from potentially harmful civil legal matters. These protections cover insurance, mortgage payments, interest rates, leases, contractual arrangements and civil judicial proceedings. “Our military men and women put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Due to their unique needs and service obligations, Congress has implemented safeguards to ensure they have fewer worries at home while they are deployed. But it is important for all Americans to be aware of these protections.” Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips as part of Military Consumer Month to help service members who need to take advantage of the many protections provided under the SCRA:
- Inform the mortgage company that you are seeking protection under SCRA.
- Provide the lender with written notice of military service.
- Send the lender a copy of the orders calling the service member to active duty.
- Research time constraints that could impact eligibility for some protections.
- Consult the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Office with questions regarding qualifications for SCRA.
The SCRA limits mortgage interest to 6 percent during military service and up to one year after service ends. Unless a court intervenes, it prevents a mortgage creditor from selling, foreclosing or seizing an active-duty service member’s mortgaged property during service and up to one year after military service terminates. The SCRA also provides protection requiring a judge to stay mortgage proceedings if a service member shows that military service has affected his or her ability to comply with mortgage obligations. Many service members would benefit from mortgage relief measures, and SCRA underscores this by prohibiting a mortgage servicer from requiring a service member to be delinquent on payments in order to qualify for loss mitigation relief if he or she would otherwise qualify. Meanwhile, the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement placed requirements on five major mortgage servicers: Ally, Bank of America, Citi, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. In addition to benefitting all homeowners, these mortgage servicers must notify service members who are 45 days delinquent on mortgage payments that they are entitled to SCRA protections and are eligible for financial counseling from Military OneSource and Armed Forces Legal Assistance. Arkansas was one of 49 states that settled with the mortgages servicers on allegations of illegal actions in servicing loans. In 2015, Rutledge launched the first-ever Military and Veterans Initiative at the Attorney General’s office to assist active duty military service members, reservists, veterans and their families with consumer related issues and many other collaborative efforts.