Army

August 30, 2012

How Soldiers can cap interest rates at six percent

By Capt. Nate Mealy
Legal Assistance, NTC and Fort Irwin

Are you on active duty? Are you currently paying a mortgage or consumer debt, like a car loan, a credit card bill, or a private education loan? Did you personally or jointly with your spouse acquire that debt before you came on active duty? If your answer to these three questions is “yes,” then the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003 could save you money.

According to the SCRA, while a Soldier serves on active duty, creditors may not charge more than 6 percent interest on any outstanding debts which preexisted the Soldier’s activation. This means that if a Soldier is paying 17 percent interest on a credit card bill, when starting active duty service, the credit card company upon notification must reduce interest charges from 17 to 6 percent for so long as the Soldier remains on active duty. The credit card company is also required to back date the change in the Soldier’s interest rate. Thus, if the Soldier came on active duty in July but did not notify the credit card company until January of the next year, the credit card company would have to give a credit for the 9 percent difference in interest paid for the months from July to January. Once leaving active duty, the credit card company can reset the original interest rate to 17 percent. Mortgage lenders are required to maintain the 6 percnt cap for an additional year after the Soldier leaves active duty.

The SCRA also dictates that creditors cannot delay or defer interest charges while a Soldier is on active duty. In other words, creditors cannot reduce a Soldier’s interest payment on a pre-existing loan from 13 to 6 percent only to increase the post-active duty interest rate from 13 to 20 percent or add months to the loan to recoup what it feels to be losses. Under the SCRA, creditors must permanently forgive any interest charges lost due to a Soldier going on active duty.

In order to receive the 6 percent interest rate protection, a Soldier must prove four things:

  1. active duty service;
  2. the date active duty began;
  3. that the interest rate capped stems from a debt entered into before active duty and
  4. that coming onto active duty “materially effected” a Soldier’s finances in relation to the debt.

The Fort Irwin Legal Assistance can assist Soldiers in assembling an information packet to send to creditors. Such information packets will usually include: a copy of your orders; a copy of the bill, contract, mortgage, etc., showing the interest you want to cap; a form letter notifying the creditor of your right to cap an interest rate, and; an explanation of why coming onto active duty has materially effected your ability to pay the debt. This “materially effected” point is usually not too difficult to prove, particularly where coming onto active duty reduced a Soldier’s salary, resulted in a big move, divided the household, or led to a deployment.

Should a creditor refuse to comply with your request to cap an interest rate, the Veterans’ Benefit Act of 2010 allows you and/or the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to sue the creditor for enforcement of the cap, damages, public fines, and in some cases, attorney’s fees and costs.

If you are interested in getting any of your pre-activation interest rates capped, make an appointment to meet with one of Fort Irwin’s Legal Assistance Attorneys by calling 380-5321. The Legal Office is locate in Building 288 on Barstow Road.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Photo by Casey Slusser, TASC

A Day of Gratitude

Photo by Casey Slusser, TASC Gold Star and Blue Star families assemble with leadership and Soldiers of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin for a photo during the “Day of Gratitude” event here, Nov. 25. In an ongoing...
 
 
DoD
Gustavo Bahena

Defense Secretary: NTC prepares Soldiers for future threats, challenges

Gustavo Bahena Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel speaks with Soldiers during a visit to the training area here, Nov. 16. The Secretary of Defense for the United States observed training and spoke with Soldiers during a visit her...
 
 
Courtesy Photo

Holiday season a time to honor the spirit of gratitude

Courtesy Photo Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Rodriguez, command sergeant major for 1916th Support Battalion, 916th Support Brigade, speaks with community members enjoying a Thanksgiving meal here, Nov. 25. Leadership greeted and served...
 

 
Gustavo Bahena

New Parent Support Program provides gift baskets

Gustavo Bahena Stephanie Ferguson, a registered nurse with New Parent Support Program, Family Advocacy Program, holds items for a “Welcome Home Baby Basket” gift. Ferguson meets new babies’ families at home and provides a...
 
 
Photo courtesy of Sue Ollar

Worth the journey

Photo courtesy of Sue Ollar Steven Shopa, Colt Boehringer and Blake Bair make the Scout sign during a ceremony in which they were awarded the Eagle Scout medal. Three Boy Scouts achieved the rank of Eagle Scout during a ceremon...
 
 
Photo by Casey Slusser, TASC

Thanksgiving meal brings community together

Photo by Casey Slusser, TASC A Gold Star Family child receives a Thanksgiving meal from a Fort Irwin commissioned officer at a dining facility here, Nov. 25. The Fort Irwin community was treated to a Thanksgiving feast at both ...
 




2 Comments


  1. […] High Desert Warrior » Army 4 mins ago by in Fort Irwin. You can follow any responses to this entry through the | RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]


  2. Excellent post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I’m inspired! Extremely useful information specially the ultimate phase :) I deal with such info much. I was looking for this particular info for a very lengthy time. Thank you and best of luck.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin