BBB Reminds Active Military of Their Consumer Rights
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Provides Protection to Those Called for Duty
Austin, TX – October 12, 2009 - Following the Justice Department’s first settlement under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) last month, BBB reminds service men and women in Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas of certain protections in the event they are called for active duty or deployment. The SCRA is intended to postpone or suspend some civil obligations to enable service members to devote full attention to duty and relieve stress on their family members.
“Soldiers should not have to worry about their homes and credit cards when they are overseas performing such a noble service,” said Carrie A. Hurt, President and CEO of BBB serving Central, Coastal and Southwest Texas. “Our military looks out for our nation and BBB wants to make sure they know their rights here at home if they get called to duty.”
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act was signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2003 and enforcement authority was given to the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in 2006. Under the SCRA, members of the military are entitled to the following major protections:
Termination of Residential Leases:
If called to a permanent change of station (PCS) or to deploy, a military member may terminate a residential lease provided they make the request in writing and include a copy of military orders.
Military members may also terminate automobile leases as long as their active duty time will be at least 180 continuous days. Just like in a residential lease, the request must be made in writing and a copy of orders must be included. The business who leased the vehicle is not allowed to charge an early termination fee, but any taxes, title and registration fees and liability charges may still have to be paid.
If the military member had a contract to lease property or a motor vehicle and made at least one payment before being called to active duty, a creditor cannot repossess it. Additionally, without a court order, the creditor cannot terminate the contract for breach.
Interest Rate Cap:
If a service member’s military obligations have affected their ability to make payments on credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc. they had before being called to active duty, the interest rate may be capped at 6% for the remainder of active service.
There are more provisions and protections under the SCRA which can be found here. For more information on keeping interest rates low, avoiding repossession, leasing a vehicle or to check the reliability of a company, visit www.bbb.org.