On Feb. 9, 2012, the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs released a document which detailed a joint federal-state agreement to compensate service members whose homes were wrongfully foreclosed upon. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, and its predecessor, the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act, or SSCRA, have been protecting members of the military since the 1940s, in regards to everything from mortgage rates to protection from eviction.
The document states that various banks including JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial agreed to a full review by the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which would determine if service members were victims of foreclosure. If they were, service members could be given a minimum payment of $116,785 or higher if they were banking with Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial. JP Morgan also noted they would be clearing members of any debt or cash equivalent to the full value of the home in addition to any compensation for any debt suffered.
Not only does the review include wrongfully foreclosed-upon homes, but this agreement is also looking into the aforementioned banks to see if they charged service members more than the six percent mortgage rate. JP Morgan has already compensated their service members, but those banking with Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial should expect payment equal to a refund, plus interest.
With relief coming to service members put into these unfortunate circumstances, this agreement also offers additional protective measures.
Originally, the SRCA states that it “prohibits foreclosures on service members without court orders on mortgages that were originated before military service began,” however; this settlement protects everyone, regardless of when their mortgage was secured, if they were receiving Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay and were stationed away from their home at the time of foreclosure. This agreement does not ignore those stateside or service members who weren’t necessarily foreclosed upon – banks are also required to look into those losses accrued to those forced to sell their homes due to a permanent change-of-station move.
In addition to these measures, the servicers listed in this agreement also approved additional SRCA training for their employees, to ensure complete compliance in order to keep this from happening again. Service members who received negative credit reports in relation to their foreclosure are also having these repaired, and the military members can also expect to not have to pay the remainder of the owed mortgage amount.
With this agreement gaining steam and providing monetary and emotional relief for those involved, a person could question where they could start the process of being reimbursed. Officials from the Assistant Attorney General’s office have said, “Federal officials will review military and mortgage records to search for discrepancies … and contact affected troops.”
Those with questions about the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act or other legal issues should contact the Fort Huachuca Legal Assistance Office, 533.2009.