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Staff Writer at Debt Reduction Services

AG Zoeller: Military Consumer Protection Day helps empower service members & their families

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said military service members, veterans and their families aren’t alone in the fight against financial fraud and scams.

Zoeller joined government agencies, advocacy organizations and private sector groups today to promote July 17 as the first annual Military Consumer Protection Day. This broad coalition is sharing tips and information about managing money, dealing with credit and debt, building savings, protecting personal information, recognizing identity theft and avoiding fraud.

“Scammers often target military service members because of their steady paychecks and mobile lifestyle,” Zoeller said. “Military Consumer Protection Day helps highlight the need for service members to learn how to spot a scam, understand their rights and use the free resources available to them.”

Zoeller said there are some important resources available to those in the military to help prevent financial harm including:

  • Active-Duty Alerts: These alerts can be placed on a service member’s credit report to inform a business it is obtaining information from an individual away on active duty. The alert requires the business to first obtain permission from an authorized third party like a family member or friend before proceeding.
  • Caps on interest bearing debt: Those on active duty may cap the interest rate on most outstanding loans at 6 percent under the provisions of the Service members Civil Relief Act. To have your interest rate reduced to 6 percent, you must write a letter to each creditor letting them know about your orders and your intent to invoke the 6 percent cap.
  • Vehicle and property lease terminations: Deployed military members are able to legally terminate some vehicle and property leases. If you are currently leasing a vehicle or home/apartment and wish to terminate your lease, contact the leaseholder and inform them of your deployment.
  • Foreclosure and eviction relief: Under the Service member Civil Relief Act and the National Mortgage Settlement, service members are granted special relief when facing foreclosure. For example, a person may be able to obtain a “stay” or temporarily delay in a foreclosure or other civil court proceeding if he or she is called up to active duty. In addition, service members have special eligibility for loss mitigation relief such as a modification of their loan or a short sale. Similarly, service members and their families who rent their home may obtain a temporary stay of eviction proceedings while the service member is on active duty.

Military service members can also visit www.IndianaConsumer.com/military/ or military.ncpw.gov for free resources including sample letters to creditors and leaseholders.

Zoeller recently helped launch a legal toolkit to assist state attorneys general in cracking down on those who prey upon military service members. Zoeller worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Consumer Protection Working Group of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and attorneys general from Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina to develop the toolkit. The kit outlines issues impacting the military community and how states’ consumer protection officials can effectively combat these types of financial predators and scammers.

The toolkit is intended to serve as a guide for relevant statutes and regulations, as well as a platform to discuss best practices and developing trends. Zoeller said his colleagues in offices of state attorneys general nationwide will be better equipped to navigate the diverse issues and complex laws concerning the military community.

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