Debt collection is also a significant issue facing the servicemember population.
The CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs released an annual report in January 2019 highlighting complaint data from 2017 and 2018. The most common type of debt collection complaint reported was about continued attempts to collect a debt that the servicemember believes is not owed. Servicemembers also complained about the communication tactics companies used when attempting to collect a debt, such as frequent and repeated calls, calls before 8AM and after 9PM, and calls after the servicemember requested no further telephone contact about the debt.
Student loan debt is also a significant issue for the military population. Repaying student debt will help servicemembers stay on track as they progress through their military career.
In February 2018, the FTC issued a new Staff Perspective paper that examines key takeaways from a July 2017 workshop titled “Military Consumer Financial Workshop.” This workshop focused on the various financial issues and scams that can affect military consumers.
The Staff Perspective includes a discussion of the unique issues that servicemembers face if they fall behind on their financing payments, including how debts in collection can endanger a servicemember’s security clearance. It also describes panelists’ reports of debt collectors unlawfully threatening to tell servicemembers’ commanding officers about an alleged debt, to coerce servicemembers to pay. The paper discusses the rights, remedies, and potential resources that are available to military consumers and emphasizes how financial education early and often, adapted to the military life cycle, is crucial.