In a bit of good news for those in the armed services, Congress has authorized new protections for servicemembers in the form of a private right of action against over-reaching creditors.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”), which limits collections tactics and enforcement of claims against active duty military personnel, has been amended to include a provision for the recovery of equitable and declaratory relief, as well as money damages in actions against debt collectors.
Until now, some courts had implied a private right of action for some SCRA violations but not others, and some courts had refused to find any private right to recovery for SCRA violations. The amendment makes a right to a private remedy explicit. The remedy applies to “anyone aggrieved” by a violation of the Act. This means the private right of action is available both to servicemembers and their dependents.
Among the SCRA’s key provisions are: protections against default judgments; tolling of statutes of limitations; reduction of interest rates to 6% on obligations incurred prior to active duty; prohibitions against self-help foreclosures and repossessions; and the right to terminate residential or vehicle leases. You can find the text of the SCRA at 50 U.S.C. §§ 501 – 596 and by visiting the Justice Department website.
Also, see this earlier post on our blog: Active Members of Military Protected from Default Judgments.