Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

If you are not in the military, you may not be familiar with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), but it’s a law that every American can be proud of. The act, which passed in its original form in 2003, provides members of the military with specific protections during the time that they are serving the country, whether they are active duty members, or reservists or members of the National Guard who have been called back to active duty.  No matter which branch of the service they are a member of, they are afforded these protections from the time that they enter active duty until between 30 and 90 days after they are discharged, and any entity that fails to honor these protections is subject to litigation, required to return money or property, and may face significant fines and damages.

Though the SCRA covers a long list of benefits provided in recognition of the sacrifice that service members make, the most important benefits are limiting interest rates to no higher than 6 percent, protection from eviction, stopping foreclosures and repossessions, and disallowing being taken to court for civil proceedings, including divorce and child support hearings.  Service members are allowed to terminate contracts for cable and internet, end vehicle and housing leases, and even allow their spouse some of these benefits, all without impacting credit reports. It also provides certain allowances regarding property and federal taxes and similar obligations.

Service members who find themselves in untenable financial situations as a result of individuals or entities failing to honor the rules of the SCRA have the right to contact the Department of Justice to litigate cases on their behalf. In most cases, these issues are quickly resolved, in some instances with significant settlements being won by the DOJ and provided to them. Most legal actions are taken with the goal of simply stopping non-compliant behaviors such as foreclosures or repossessions, but there have been many instances when companies that have insisted on payment of interest or other fees outside of the boundaries of the SCRA are required to pay those monies back, as well as to pay fines of up to $55,000 for first-time offenses and double that for repetitions of the offense. Service members are also able to hire private attorneys to pursue these cases, in which case the offending institutions will be required to pay their attorneys’ fees.

If you are a service member who is facing inappropriate, non-compliant actions by a company and you need help, contact us today to set up an appointment to discuss what we can do for you.