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Old 03-04-2003, 05:15 PM
nang nang is offline
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FYI - to anyone who recently enlisted or has been deployed. You may not know that many major credit card companies will stop charging interest on your cards while you are serving. You have to contact them and provide them with a little bit of info.,i.e. duty station,start date.etc. I contacted Discover card for my son and they went back the whole year and a half that he has been in and wrote off all finance charges acrued and interest charges for that whole time. Some of you might already know this - but in case you didn't... I believe it's called the Soldier and Sailor Act.
Can't hurt to look into it.
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Old 03-06-2003, 08:36 AM
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Nice benefit!
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Old 03-06-2003, 08:40 AM
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If you're a reserve component service member called to active duty, you're protected by a law that can save you some legal problems and possibly some money as well.
Under the provisions of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940, you may qualify for any or all of the following:

? Reduced interest rate on mortgage payments.
? Reduced interest rate on credit card debt.
? Protection from eviction if your rent is $1,200 or less.
? Delay of all civil court actions, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure or divorce proceedings.

"Although all service members receive some protections under the SSCRA, additional protections are available to reserve components called to active duty," said Lt. Col. Patrick Lindemann, deputy director for legal policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Most active duty service members are familiar with the provisions of the SSCRA that guarantee service members the right to vote in the state of their home of record and protect them from paying taxes in two different states.

One of the most significant provisions under the act limits the amount of interest that may be collected on debts of persons in military service to 6 percent per year during the period of military service. This provision applies to all debts incurred prior to the commencement of active duty and includes interest on credit card debt, mortgages, car loans and other debts. The provision, Lindemann emphasized, applies to pre-service debts, and the interest rate reduction doesn't occur automatically ? service members must request it.

Once a service member requests the rate reduction, the creditor must either comply or apply for court relief. The SSCRA puts the burden on the creditor to show that military service has not "materially affected" a member's ability to repay the debt. The court generally grants relief if the creditor can make his case.

Lindemann advised that service members notify lenders of their intent to invoke the 6 percent cap in writing, along with proof of mobilization/activation to active duty and evidence of the difference in the member's military and civilian pay. This could prevent creditors from attempting to challenge interest rate reduction requests in court.

The interest rate cap does not apply to federal guaranteed student loans. However, according to Lindemann, the Department of Education has in the past deferred or suspended payments on student loans for reserve component military members called to active duty. Service members should contact their lenders or schools to determine if such a program has been implemented and its eligibility requirements.

Another key provision under the SSCRA protects your dependents from being evicted while you are serving your country. If you rent a house or apartment that is occupied for dwelling purposes and the rent does not exceed $1,200 per month, the landlord must obtain a court order authorizing eviction. This provision applies regardless of whether quarters were rented before or after entry into military service.

In cases of eviction from dwelling quarters, courts may grant a stay of up to three months or enter any other "order as may be just" if military service materially affects the service member's ability to pay the rent. This provision is not intended to allow military members to avoid paying rent, said Lindemann, but rather to protect families when they cannot pay the rent because military service has affected their ability to do so.

Another significant protection under the act relates to civil proceedings. Service members involved in civil litigation can request a delay in proceedings if they can show their military responsibilities preclude their proper representation in court. This provision is most often invoked by service members who are on an extended deployment or stationed overseas. "I would recommend a service member contact the unit or installation legal office immediately if they receive notice of court proceedings against them," Lindemann said. "Civil court proceedings can involve very complex issues and no one should do anything, including requesting a stay of proceedings, prior to seeking legal advice."

To learn more about these or other provisions of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act, contact your unit or installation legal assistance office.


Brief History

An active duty soldier is transferred to a new duty station that is not in his state of residence. When he takes up residence in the city outside the installation, he is informed he must have a city sticker on his car ? cost: $25. While paying the fee, the city clerk mentions the soldier needs to pay personal property tax on his car ? another $300. The soldier grudgingly pays the $325 accessed fees. He just paid $324 too much, not knowing he was only legally responsible for a $1 administrative fee.

A pilot for a major airline is called to active duty for a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf to fly missions over the Southern No-Fly Zone. She leaves behind a family, a large mortgage and plenty of credit card debt. Equally important, she leaves behind a salary her active duty status pay could not begin to match. But when she arrives home six months later, there are no overdue bills, her mortgage is up to date, and her credit rating is as good as the day she left.

The difference between the experience of the soldier transferred overseas and the pilot sent to the Persian Gulf is that the pilot took advantage of a special package of protections available to all service members called the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940.

You may not know it by its formal title. Indeed, it's quite possible you don't know it exists at all. But if you are a service member on active duty, you are under its umbrella of protection from the day you take the oath to the day you leave military service.

It is one of the most comprehensive and enduring packages of protection Congress has ever enacted on service members' behalf. If you have a credit card or a mortgage, you have the potential to benefit from the act. If you're ever involved in any type of civil litigation, you will find the act's umbrella of protection extends to that as well.

"Service members should have a basic understanding of the depth of protection and their rights under this act," said Lt. Col. Patrick Lindemann, deputy director for legal policy in DoD's Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. "The act does a great job of protecting the rights of service members. It's a significant law for service members, especially for reserve component service members called to active duty. Every service member needs to be aware that the act exists so they don't potentially miss out on its protections.

Any member of the uniformed services serving on active duty is covered under the Act. This includes reserve component personnel called to active duty, Coast Guard personnel, as well as officers of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Despite the act's official title dating it to 1940, its origins can be traced as far back as the Civil War when Congress passed a total moratorium on civil actions brought against Union soldiers and sailors. In basic terms, this meant that any legal action involving a civil matter was put on hold until after the soldier or sailor returned from the war. Examples of civil matters included breach of contract, bankruptcy, foreclosure or divorce proceedings.

Congress' intent in passing the moratorium was to protect both national interests and those of service members. First, Congress wanted service members to be able to fight the war without having to worry about problems that might arise at home. Secondly, because most soldiers and sailors during the Civil War were not well paid, it was difficult for them to honor their pre-service debts, such as mortgage payments or other credit.

Congressional concern about protecting the rights of service members was raised again during World War I when the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1918 was passed. Like the Civil War-era moratorium, the 1918 legislation was designed to protect the rights of service members while they were serving in the war. Although the 1918 Act did not include a total moratorium on civil actions, it did protect service members from such things as repossession of property, bankruptcy, foreclosure or other such actions while they were in harm's way.

The 1918 Act stayed in effect until shortly after World War I, when it expired.

The present-day statute, essentially a reenactment of the 1918 law, was passed in 1940 to protect the rights of the millions of service members activated for World War II. The major difference between it and the 1918 version, other than minor modifications, was there was no provision for the Act to expire, as it did after World War I. Thus, since 1940, service members have received uninterrupted coverage under the Act. And indeed, congressional commitment and support for the Act has remained so strong, the Act has been amended more than 11 times since 1940 to keep pace with a changing military and changing world, with the last amendments added in 1991 during the Gulf War.
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