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Harassing efforts to collect credit card debt affecting military

Politicians often make a point of discussing military members and veterans and the great value that they provide, but does that talk actually translate to reality? According to data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it does not. Washington state military families struggling with credit card debt and other past due pills are increasingly filing complaints about aggressive creditors.

Veterans and active duty service men and women file complaints regarding debt collection at twice the rate of the general population. In both 2014 and 2015, the CFPB noted that debt collection was the number one complaint from military families. Out of 19,000 total complaints, debt collection accounted for 46 percent, topping both credit reporting and mortgages. That figure included both active duty members and veterans.

Some of the complaints were especially upsetting, including multiple reports of creditors contacting or threatening to contact a service member's commanding officer. Such action can jeopardize that individual's security clearance, making it more difficult for him or her to perform his duties to the country. When faced with these types of threats, most people pay up even when they do not believe that they are responsible for the debt. The CFPB even recently took action against an auto lender that took these actions. The lender was forced to refund just over $2 million to consumers and to pay a penalty for engaging in illegal practices for debt collection.

The men and women of the United States military already face tremendous hardships. Harassing creditors for medical and credit card debt creates situations in which not only their personal lives are compromised, but also their professional careers. Military members living in Washington have the option to file for bankruptcy relief from their debts. Aside from achieving debt relief, initiating the process also puts an immediate stop to harassing phone calls and other debt collection efforts.

Source: NBC News, "Why Are So Many Military Families Dealing With Debt Collectors?", Herb Weisbaum, March 31, 2016

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