January 29, 2014

GAO says many servicemembers not using SCRA

Jan. 30, 2014 – The recent Government Accountability Office report examining the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act found that many eligible borrowers have not taken advantage of the law's protections, which include post-service mortgage protections and a 6 percent mortgage interest rate cap.

The SCRA interest-rate cap applies to loans existing at the time the servicemember entered into active-duty service; a financial institution must extend the cap upon request by the servicemember.

GAO, in its report, said it obtained information from three mortgage servicers and a credit union. It found that some "servicemembers appeared to have benefitted from the SCRA interest rate cap of 6 percent, but many eligible borrowers had apparently not taken advantage of this protection."

The report noted that there is room for improvement in Department of Defense's educational efforts about the SCRA. It recommended further assessment of the success of educating those eligible. GAO also noted that the number of servicemembers with mortgages eligible for SCRA protections is not known because financial institutions, or mortgage servicers, have not collected this specific information.

NAFCU backed the necessary provisions in 2012 to expand foreclosure protections for servicemembers under the SCRA. Credit unions serving any military servicemembers are subject to the SCRA.