Protecting servicemembers from predatory lenders and other financial threats has strengthened the all-volunteer force in recent years … and our nation cannot afford to remove those protections during a time of recruiting struggles and mounting global tensions.
MOAA made this case during Nov. 2 testimony before a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing that addressed the financial safety of those in uniform, veterans, and military families.
[TAKE ACTION: Protect Veterans from VA 'Claims Sharks']
At issue: A Supreme Court case which could hamstring or even dissolve the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency created in 2011 to fend off deceptive business practices. Among its duties is the enforcement of the Military Lending Act, legislation passed in 2006 to cap some loan rates for servicemembers and offer other financial protections.
“A return to the days where unscrupulous financial predators target servicemembers without fear of repercussions would make a bad situation worse,” said Cory Titus, MOAA’s director of Government Relations for servicemember compensation and veterans benefits, during the Nov. 2 hearing. “Maintaining and protecting the CFPB can prevent this outcome – the bureau is good for our servicemembers, good for our veterans, and helps maintain the all-volunteer force. In turn, it helps defend our country.”
[DOWNLOAD: MOAA’s Written Testimony]
Titus, who called the potential for the dissolution of the CFPB “frightening,” testified alongside representatives from the Association of Military Banks of America and the National Military Family Association. The appearance marked the latest of MOAA’s many efforts to support these protections, including taking part in a Supreme Court amicus brief in support of the CFPB.
“We’ve got three great organizations that are sitting up here today,” said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) during the hearing. “… continue to advocate for things that can make a difference.”
Educate and Enforce
The CFPB’s work extends beyond those in uniform – it successfully shut down a mortgage lender whose advertisements included VA branding and implied a false relationship with the federal government, and it sued the nation’s largest student loan servicing company for falsely reporting some disabled veterans had defaulted on their loans.
The CFPB provides financial education resources and critical financial data reports through its Office of Servicemember Affairs (OSA). This work not only informs groups like MOAA of potential financial woes faced by those in uniform, it can ensure servicemembers understand the protections they’re offered – one OSA report showed activated reservists had failed to take advantage of about $100 million in interest rate reductions from 2017 to 2018, for example.
The bureau also serves as a clearinghouse for servicemember financial complaints under the MLA and other federal regulations.
“Before the CFPB was created, there was no centralized location for these complaints and no ‘cop on the beat’ to evaluate these unique situations,” Titus told lawmakers.
“MOAA is gravely concerned by the potential weakening of the CFPB,” he added. “We believe that without a robust CFPB, servicemembers, veterans, and their families would lose a vital defender … and the only federal agency mandated to safeguard their financial interests.”
[LEARN MORE: Watch the Full Hearing]
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