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Proposed bill would protect military members from debt collectors

A proposed Indiana bill would protect military members from debt collectors, foreclosure, and eviction.

New financial protections would also apply to foreclosures and evictions

A proposed bill by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller would give military members on active duty additional consumer protections, according to Indiana Public Radio. The bill, called the Indiana Service Member’s Civil Relief Act, would delay debt collections, home foreclosures, evictions, and other obligations for active-duty military servicemen. The bill would complement and enforce federal laws that already protect military members. Indiana currently has one of the largest populations of military members in the country.

Obligations delayed

The federal Service Member’s Civil Relief Act already allows serving National Guardsmen and Reservists to suspend obligations like debt collections, foreclosures, evictions, and some lease contract terminations while they are on active duty, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The proposed Indiana bill would enforce those federal protections, but would go further by making it possible for military members to postpone or suspend state-specific obligations that are not currently covered by federal law. Proponents of the bill say that it will help military members focus on their duties while deployed instead of worrying about distracting financial problems back home. The bill comes in response to a finance company that was recently accused of offering deceptive loans to servicemen. That company has since been ordered to pay $92 million to members that were affected by the scheme, including 261 members from Indiana.

Debt problems

While the proposed bill is expected to enjoy bipartisan support when it is put up for debate in the next legislative session, it is important for current military members to understand the bill is so far just a proposal and has not yet become law. However, as the above story shows, military servicemen should be aware that federal laws do currently exist to protect servicemen from debt collectors and other financial obligations.

Active-duty military members and their families should not have to deal with the threat of foreclosure or eviction while serving their country abroad. In many cases, the federal Service Member’s Civil Relief Act can help put a stop to stressful and sometimes harassing phone calls by debt collectors.

Bankruptcy option

For anybody currently struggling with debt, regardless of whether they are serving in the military or not, the fear and stress created by phone calls from creditors can be intense. In many cases, the best way to deal with debt may be to declare bankruptcy. While many people are understandably hesitant about resorting to bankruptcy, the truth is that such a step can help many consumers restart their financial lives. By talking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, people currently struggling with debt and collectors can discuss whatever options may be available to finally put the ordeal created by mounting bills and debt payments behind them.