Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Congress Must Defend Service Members From Predatory Financial Scams

Consumer Groups Applaud Reform Legislation to Enforce Financial Protections for Military Personnel

Washington, D.C. – Public Citizen, Americans for Financial Reform, the Consumer Federation of America, and the National Consumer Law Center applaud U.S. Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and their colleagues for reintroducing the Military Consumer Enforcement Act, which would empower the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to oversee and enforce certain provisions of the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

Passed in 2003, SCRA was intended to ease economic burdens on military personnel and ensure military readiness by extending rights to service members and protecting them against default judgments, foreclosures and repossessions.

“Predatory schemes frequently target service members and their families,” said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform. “This legislation grants the CFPB the authority it needs to effectively enforce crucial SCRA protections that make sure banks can’t put military families out on the street or seize their cars in violation of the law.”

“This legislation is needed now more than ever,” said Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “As banks and lenders force consumers into secret arbitration and block even our service members from enforcing basic rights in court, our last line of defense is federal intervention.”

“The CFPB has a strong record of safeguarding military families from financial fraudsters,” said Michael Best, senior policy advocate with the Consumer Federation of America. “By equipping the agency with new tools, it can continue to protect consumers and companies that play by the rules.”

The U.S. Office of Servicemember Affairs at the CFPB has long served as a watchdog for military personnel and has been immensely effective at servicing the distinct financial needs of military families. Military leaders nationwide have lauded the work of the consumer agency and its dedicated military unit.

Earlier this year, military family and consumer advocates told the Senate Armed Services Committee about the need to vigorously enforce laws combatting financial fraud that specifically target the military community. Last month, 29 leading military and veterans groups and two grassroots organizations representing U.S. veterans and military family members sent separate letters urging members of Congress to defend the CFPB against threats to its authority, structure and funding.

The Military Consumer Enforcement Act is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.).

Contact:

Carter Dougherty, AFL, 202- 251-6700

Angela Bradbery, Public Citizen, 202-588-7741

Jack Gillis, CFA, 202-737-0766

Jan Kruse, NCLC, 617-542-8010 ext. 361

The Consumer Federation of America is a nonprofit association of more than 250 consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.