Tester legislation protects deployed troops from losing their homes

Bill requires stiffer punishment for banks that take advantage of American troops

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today introduced legislation to better protect deployed American troops from losing their homes through foreclosure.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act of 2003 currently protects active duty servicemembers from certain financial and legal hardships which result from their absence due to military service.  The law is meant to protect troops serving overseas from hardships resulting from mortgage payments, vehicle leases and telephone contracts.

Recent reports, however, show that banks have repeatedly failed to comply with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and have instead overcharged and foreclosed on homes owned by troops serving overseas.

Tester today introduced the Protecting Servicemembers from Mortgage Abuses Act, which would stiffen the penalties for banks that violate the law.

“Taking advantage of the troops who leave their friends and family, and put their lives on the line—that’s something no Montanan and no American should stand for,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “This bill will see to it that any Wall Street banker trying to scam our troops will find themselves on the wrong side of a jail cell door.  Because that’s where they belong.”

Tester’s legislation would:

  • Double from one year to two years the criminal penalty for violations of foreclosure and eviction procedures against U.S. troops
  • Double the civil penalty in cases where the U.S. Attorney General pursues a civil action
  • Extend the period of foreclosure protection after military service has ended from nine to 24 months

Executives from Wall Street firm JP Morgan Chase recently admitted to Congress that the banking giant had overcharged more than 4,500 families and foreclosed on dozens of homes in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

JP Morgan Chase currently faces a class action lawsuit.

A copy of Tester’s legislation is available on his website, HERE.