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AG Herring Highlights Consumer Protections for Veterans and Military Families

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is urging veterans and military families to familiarize themselves with special protections in state and federal law to help shield veterans from fraud, scams and abusive business practices.

Herring said veterans and military families are often targeted by scammers because they have a consistent income and can often be called away from home for long periods of time.

Last year, Herring introduced a legal resource guide to help veterans and military families understand their employment rights, consumer protection resources, educational and tax rights and benefits.

The guide is available at every Department of Veterans Services Benefits Offices, on college campuses and online at www.VaMilGuide.com .

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Release from the Office of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring:

RICHMOND (March 7, 2018)-As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Mark R. Herring is encouraging Virginia veterans and military families to familiarize themselves with the special consumer protections in state and federal law that may protect them and their families from fraud, scams, predatory lending and abusive business practices.

Veterans and military families are often targeted by scammers and unscrupulous businesses because they have a consistent income and can often be called away from home for long periods of time. Attorney General Herring has made the needs of veterans and military families a priority for his re-organized and expanded Consumer Protection Section.

"It's pretty despicable, but there are actually people out there who try to make themselves money by ripping off veterans and military families," said Attorney General Herring. "Our military families already bear an incredible burden on behalf of our commonwealth and our country, so we owe it to them to protect them from abuse and exploitation by scammers and shady businesses. We've taken significant action in recent years to crack down on those who prey on veterans and military families, but we're not going to stop until we've made it clear that Virginia is the last place in the world to try these schemes against our citizens."

Last year, Attorney General Herring launched the "Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide," a comprehensive guide to help veterans and military families understand their employment rights, consumer protection resources, educational and tax rights and benefits, voting rights and more.

The Guide is available at every Department of Veterans Services Benefits Offices, every Virginia Community College System Campus, the military assistance provider at every four year college and university, and online at www.VaMilGuide.com.

Attorney General Herring has taken major action to protect veterans and military from exploitation. Earlier today he announced a lawsuit against Future Income Payments and its owner for selling illegal, predatory, high-interest loans to retired military members and civil servants.

He and his team also won the largest multistate settlement ever led by Virginia against USA Discounters, resulting in approximately $100 million debt relief and compensation for veterans and military families, including $27.4 million for thousands of Virginia consumers, who were abused by the retailer's lending and debt collection practices.

The USA Discounters settlement followed a similar action against Freedom Furniture that secured millions in relief for veterans and military families who were victims of illegal debt collection tactics.

Attorney General Herring encourages veterans and military families to familiarize themselves with the following consumer protections, which are discussed in more detail in "Chapter 2: Protections for You as a Consumer" in the Virginia Military and Veteran Legal Resource Guide."

The Service Members Civil Relief Act includes the following key protections:

  • Limits on Interest Rates.
  • Limits on Sale, Foreclosure and Seizure of Mortgaged Real Estate.
  • Restrictions on Repossession.
  • Protection from Immediate Eviction.
  • Termination of Some Contracts due to Relocation.
  • Protection Against Default Judgment.

The federal Military Lending Act provides consumer credit protections to service members and certain members of their families including:

  • 36 percent interest cap on loans
  • A limit on fees and a requirement for written and verbal disclosure of all fees associated with the loan
  • A ban on mandatory arbitration, the waiving of legal rights, and prepayment penalties

Virginia law prohibits payday lenders and motor vehicle title lenders from issuing loans to military service members, their spouses, or children.

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regulates the conduct of debt collectors including:

  • Limits on contacting people other than the borrower, including a service member's chain of command or employer.
  • Limiting collections contact to reasonable hours and locations

Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section: