Merkley Joins Effort to Protect Servicemembers From Falling Victim to Mortgage Abuses

– Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley joined Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in an effort to strengthen mortgage protections for servicemembers once they return home from duty.  The Protecting Servicemembers from Mortgage and Abuse Act of 2011 will help protect members of the military from mortgage abuses by encouraging financial institutions to comply with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and will increase penalties on institutions that fail to do so.

“We can’t stand idly by while our servicemembers and their families fall victim to mortgage abuse,” said Merkley.  “After sacrificing so much to keep our nation safe, the least we can do is ensure that they’ll have a stable home to return to.  We need to strengthen mortgage protections for our military families, and help make the transition to civilian life as seamless as possible.”

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was initially designed to protect our military men and women from financial and mortgage abuses while they’re serving abroad.  Unfortunately, financial institutions have failed to comply with the SCRA, which has led to thousands of mortgage overcharges and mistakes at the expense of America’s men and women in the military.

The Protecting Servicemembers from Mortgage Abuses Act of 2011 will encourage compliance of the SCLA by doubling the maximum criminal penalties for violations of its foreclosure and eviction protections.  The bill will also help servicemembers get on solid ground once they return home from duty by extending the foreclosure protection coverage from 9 months to 24 months.

The legislation is sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and cosponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Jon Tester (D-MT).