Business and Economics

First Military Consumer Protection Day Observed

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July 18, 2013 — Indiana’s Attorney General wants Hoosiers to help defend people who defend the nation by working to stop their consumer exploitation.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller says military service members, veterans and their families have allies in their fight against financial fraud and scams. “Scammers often target military service members because of their steady paychecks and mobile lifestyle. 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 called on people to support that effort when he observed the first Military Consumer Protection Day on July 17, 2013 to help empower service members and their families, joining government agencies, advocacy organizations and private sector groups to promote July 17 as the first annual Military Consumer Protection Day to share tips and information about money management, credit and debt, savings, personal information protection, identity theft and fraud.

Zoeller suggests that resources are available to military personnel “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 or for free resources including sample letters to creditors and leaseholders.”

Zoeller’s own effort involves a legal toolkit to help state attorneys general enforce laws against predatory consumer practice that prey on military service members.

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