Troops to get $12 million in SCRA agreement
Capital One has agreed to pay $12 million in hurts to in this area 4,000 service members related to wrongful foreclosures and repossessions of homes, and denial of the 6-percent interest rate reduction for pre-service amount outstanding required under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act, the Justice Department announced Thursday.The agreement is one of the most comprehensive settlements ever obtained by a government agency or any private party under the SCRA, said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division. He said he hopes the case will serve as a “wake-up call” to others in the lending industry with wide portfolios of loans. “It really is vital to conduct this aggressive and robust internal audit.”No proceedings is required on the part of service members; an independent consultant is identifying the service members and calculating their payments.The case involves accounts dating back to July 15, 2006. Capital One lecturer Tatiana Stead said the company expects to start sending payments later this year.The agreement was filed in centralized court in Alexandria, Va.“We sincerely apologize and are providing restitution to our impacted customers, and will be providing lower rates and greater benefits than the law requires to all eligible service members,” John Finneran Jr., Capital One’s general counsel, said in a statement.The company’s internal assess found that the errors “impacted only a small percentage of our military customers,” according to Stead. “But, we recognize that any digit is too high, mistakes of this nature are really lamentable and we apologize.”The two-year investigation started with a service limb’s complaint in this area Capital One’s failure to reduce his interest rate to 6 percent. The reduction applies to mortgages and other loans or debt entered into prior to enlisting on active duty or, for reserve component members, prior to being mobilized for active duty.The service limb’s complaint was referred to the Justice Department by military attorneys at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.Payments will vary based on each service limb’s individual circumstances, Perez said. He noted that the majority of the cases involve credit cards.For service members whose homes were wrongfully foreclosed on, Capital One will pay $125,000 plus any lost equity in the property, with interest. For those whose vehicles were wrongfully repossessed, payment will be $10,000 plus any lost equity in the repossessed motor vehicle, with interest. In this area $7 million is probable to be paid for these SCRA violationsTroops who were wrongfully denied the reduction in interest rate on their pre-service debt will receive a refund of all the interest they paid above 6 percent on their credit card accounts, motor vehicle finance loans and consumer loans, plus an additional $500.“We rely on these courageous men and women to protect the safety and security of this country and we will be vigilant in protecting their rights at home,” Perez said. “We commit Capital One for taking steps to develop strong SCRA policies before they knew the full results of our investigation.”Perez said Capital One has cooperated fully and has taken steps beyond what is required by the SCRA, such as sinking interest rates to 4 percent and providing an additional one-year grace period for the reduced rate. The 4-percent interest rate is effective Aug. 1, according to Stead.Under the agreement, when Capital One receives a request for the interest-rate reduction in one area, such as a mortgage, the reduction will also be applied to all SCRA-eligible accounts, Perez said, noting this is the first time the Justice Department has received this type of provision.
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