January 14, 2016

Where credit is due

56th Fighter Wing Legal

The most wonderful time of the year has ended, and the New Year has begun. Some may be feeling the sting of those Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday steals. We at Lightning Legal want to pass on some information to all consumers out there.

To start, active-duty alerts are available to protect the credit of deploying members. An active-duty alert on a credit report means businesses have to take extra steps before granting credit in your name. In order to receive alert protections, a service member must contact one of the credit reporting companies (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion); the companies must communicate with one another. The service member must provide proof of identification (e.g. passport, CAC, driver’s license). The service member may request removal from marketing lists for prescreened credit card offers. The alerts will last for one year and lenders must take reasonable steps to verify the identity of a request before approval.

Next, if unauthorized use of a credit card has become an issue, to resolve the issue a consumer must notify the credit card issuer in writing within 60 days of the bill notifying the consumer of the charge. In the notification letter, the consumer must provide his name, account number, the assertion that there has been an unauthorized charge on the account, the date of the unauthorized charge, and the amount of the unauthorized charge. Federal law, the Fair Credit Billing Act, limits the liability for unauthorized charges to $50.

Furthermore, we encourage all service members to contact their credit card provider and ask about benefits to service members. Major credit card companies offer various benefits including 0-percent APR, 6-percent APR, fee waivers, additional benefits and special deployment benefits.

According to a survey on veteran debt statistics, conducted by consumercredit.com, 91 percent of military families have at least one credit card and 27 percent have $10,000 or more in credit card debt.

The third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, had a rule that many may benefit from following, “Never spend money before you have earned it.” The 56th Force Support Squadron Airman & Family Readiness Center has financial workshops available on base and many resources for tracking expenses. The legal office is also a resource with which service members may discuss financial responsibility, Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act, and consumer affairs.

May 2016 be a prosperous and joyous year.

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Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos

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