Defenders launch $ 250,000 advertising campaign to support protection of troops from predatory lenders

Nearly 40 military and veteran service organizations launched a $ 250,000 advertising campaign urging the Department of Defense and the Office of Consumer Financial Protection to continue to strictly enforce a law that protects military personnel and families from predatory lenders.

Entitled “Don’t Give Up Military Families”, the announcement presents a letter sent by the organizations on August 23 to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney.

“Military personnel and their families are harmed when predatory lenders target them with financial fraud and extremely high interest rates,” the advocates wrote. “We urge you to stand with the troops and against any attempt to weaken the Military Loans Act, including the Bureau’s supervisory and enforcement authority and the Ministry’s rules against predatory lending by all businesses, including auto dealers.

In addition to lawyers, 49 senators have already sent a letter to Mulvaney at CFPB, urging the office to use all available authorities to ensure that troops and their families receive their protection under the law.

The full-page ads ran on Thursday in The Washington Post, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, San Antonio Express-News, Roll Call, The Hill, Politico, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Houston Chronicle, and Killeen Daily Herald. On Friday, the ad is shown in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It is also published in the September 17 print editions of Army Time, Air Force Time, Marine Corps Time, Navy Time and Defense News.

The organizations are also urging people to add their names to a petition expressing their opposition to attempts to weaken protection, to KeepMilitaryProtections.org.

The campaign follows recent reports that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering withdrawing its regular reviews of payday lenders and others to ensure they are complying with the military loan law. Advocates have expressed concerns that removing this supervisory authority, in fact offering less oversight of these lenders, would mean less deterrence in the market.

Advocates, military commanders and others generally agree that the Military Loans Act had the desired effect of reducing the use of payday lenders, who in the past targeted the military with low rates. ‘interest exceeding 300%.

The Military Lending Act of 2006, and the DoD regulations that implement this law, limit the maximum annual percentage rate to 36% on most consumer loans to active-duty military personnel and their dependents, including administration fees and certain other costs in the calculation. Typically, the APR for most loans would be below 36%, but loans with even higher interest rates, sometimes over 300%, are still available to all other members of the civilian community.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for over 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families “. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida, and Athens, Georgia.

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