SOUTH BEND From the office of the Indiana Attorney General:
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined State Sen. Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) in South Bend Thursday to discuss a legislative proposal that would increase consumer protections for military service members.
As proposed, the Indiana Service Member’s Civil Relief Act would provide state remedies for violations of the federal Service Member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which allows current serving National Guardsmen and Reservists to suspend or postpone certain obligations, such as debt collections, foreclosures, evictions, judicial and administrative proceedings, and certain lease or service terminations. It would also include protection from additional state-specific obligations not covered by the SCRA.
“When Hoosier military members are in the line of duty, they should not have to worry about these complicated, time-consuming and often expensive obligations that could have life-altering consequences,” Zoeller said. “Expanding the SCRA at the state level will allow our service men and women to devote their full attention to military duties and relieve stress on the family members back home.”
Indiana has a long tradition of military service, and is home to about 550,000 veterans. The Hoosier State serves one of the largest veteran populations in the U.S. Many states, including Illinois and Kentucky, already have laws in place that complement the SCRA to protect state military members.
"I am honored and proud to join Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller as he commits himself to supporting legislation enforcing the Service Member's Civil Relief Act. As a veteran and speaking for my fellow veterans I feel I am safe in saying that protecting our service members and their families by all means available, is paramount of importance, “ Arnold said. “The step that our Attorney General is taking today is to be applauded and I am grateful along with our honored service members for his actions."
Zoeller said the proposed Indiana Service Member’s Civil Relief Act would also guard against companies attempting to scam military members.
Last month, Zoeller joined 12 other state attorneys general to take action against a company that was offering false and misleading credit options to military members. As a result, the company – Rome Finance – must now pay back nearly $92 million in debt relief to more than 17,000 U.S. service members and other consumers harmed by the company’s lending schemes. Almost $1.5 million of that relief will be paid to 261 Hoosier service members.
“Tragically, military members and their families are often targeted and can fall victim to scammers taking advantage of a deployment or on-the-go lifestyle,” Zoeller said. “Today’s proposal would add an extra line of defense against this unfortunate trend, and serve as a reminder that Indiana takes care of its military families.”
To become law, the Indiana Service Member’s Civil Relief Act must be approved by the Indiana General Assembly. The next legislative session convenes in January.