While active duty military service members protect the U.S., the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003 protects their interests back home, according to a news release from Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.


“Every day, our military members wake up thousands of miles away from their homes and work hard fighting for our liberty. The SCRA ensures that our American heroes will be protected from eviction from those very homes during their absence, in addition to providing protection on issues ranging from civil court postponements to interest rate caps,” according to the release.


“By nature, a service member’s duty to country prevents them from being involved in many interests they hold back home,” Rutledge said. “The SCRA protects our heroes from issues related to and during a deployment or training. Sometimes it is not possible for them to appear for a civil court case, for instance, and the SCRA provides protections in that scenario. The Act is a way to recognize and thank military members for their constant sacrifice at home for the greater good.”


Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips as part of Military Consumer Protection Month to help service members who need to take advantage of the many protections provided under the SCRA:


• First, service members should seek the counsel of a military legal assistance attorney to determine if their SCRA rights have been violated.


• If the military attorney determines that a violation of the SCRA has occurred, the service member must retain a private civilian attorney with SCRA expertise in order to pursue a lawsuit. The Arkansas Bar Association provides a database of Arkansas attorneys.


• Possible remedies for these types of issues include the recovery of monetary damages, legal costs and attorney fees.


• The SCRA limits mortgage interest rates to 6 percent during military service and up to one year after service ends. Unless a court intervenes, it prevents a mortgage creditor from selling, foreclosing or seizing an active-duty service member’s mortgaged property during service and up to one year after military service terminates. The SCRA also provides protection requiring a judge to stay mortgage proceedings if a service member shows that military service has affected his or her ability to comply with mortgage obligations.


Many service members would benefit from mortgage relief measures, and the SCRA underscores this by prohibiting a mortgage servicer from requiring a service member to be delinquent on payments in order to qualify for loss mitigation relief if he or she would otherwise qualify.


The first-of-its-kind “Military and Veterans Initiative” launched by Attorney General Rutledge in 2015 focuses on protecting service members. It remains a key part of protecting service members from any consumer-related issues and works in collaboration with other programs to protect those who protect us.


For details on how to avoid a scam, call the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office at 800-482-8982 or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.