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Debt collectors go after service members despite protections

Debt collectors go after service members despite protections

Debt collectors are targeting members of the Armed Services by calling their superior officers, threatening reduction in rank and even courts-martial, despite stepped-up efforts to protect them from abuse, according to a government reportissued last week.

“I have heard in my many visits to military installations across the country about aggressive and deceptive tactics by debt collectors specifically targeting members of the military,” said Holly Petraeus, assistant director for service member affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Petraeus, in a letter accompanying the report, said the “sheer volume of debt collection complaints alone” makes the issue important to her office.

While all Americans are covered by laws barring debt collectors from overly aggressive or deceptive tactics, military members and their families are supposed to receive additional consideration, including protection from foreclosure while deployed, tricky high-rate loans and other financial pitfalls.

That’s because they face particular financial challenges: they relocate frequently, deploy overseas and often are targeted by scammers promoting rip-off deals, officials and advocates say.

Yet military members routinely are denied their additional legal protections, Petraeus’ office found.

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