The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice enforces several laws designed to protect the rights of members of the military – so that their brave and selfless service doesn’t put them at risk of losing their jobs at home; so that they don’t have to forfeit their right to vote; so that they can be assured they and their families in the consumer context will not be penalized for their courageous decision to serve our nation.

One of those laws, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act or SCRA, provides critical additional consumer and other protections to the men and women serving our nation in the military – its enactment was a recognition that those who are making great sacrifices to protect us deserve to know that we have their backs at home.

The law postpones, suspends, terminates, or reduces the amount of certain consumer debt obligations so that members of the armed forces can focus their full attention on their military responsibilities without adverse consequences for themselves or their families. This means that a soldier won’t have to worry that his or her car will be repossessed while they’re on the front lines overseas. It means that instead of worrying that their spouse and children will be evicted while they’re serving their country, they can focus on their critical military duties.

Among the protections provided by the SCRA is a prohibition on foreclosure of a servicemember’s property without first getting approval from the court if the servicemember obtained their mortgage prior to entering military service. This protection applies for nine months after the end of the servicemember’s military service.  On May 26, the Civil Rights Division announced settlements with two mortgage servicers under the SCRA to resolve allegations that the servicers wrongfully foreclosed upon active duty servicemembers without first obtaining court orders. Combined, the settlements provide more than $22 million in monetary relief for the victims.

Under the first settlement, BAC Home Loans Servicing LP, formerly known as Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, will pay $20 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Countrywide foreclosed on approximately 160 servicemembers between January 2006 and May 2009 without court orders.  Of the approximately 160 servicemembers upon whom Countrywide foreclosed without obtaining court orders, Countrywide allegedly foreclosed in many instances where it knew, or should have known, about their military status.  The victims include individuals who have served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Department of Justice initiated its SCRA investigation of Countrywide in response to a referral by the U.S. Marine Corps regarding an active duty servicemember who was facing foreclosure by Countrywide.

Under the consent decree, Countrywide will establish a settlement fund of $20 million to compensate the servicemembers upon whom Countrywide foreclosed between January 1, 2006, and May 31, 2009.  In addition to this settlement fund, Countrywide has agreed to compensate any additional SCRA-eligible individuals on whom Countrywide foreclosed without court orders between June 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.

Under the second settlement, Saxon Mortgage Services Inc., a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, will pay $2.35 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Saxon foreclosed on approximately 17 servicemembers between January 2006 and June 2009 without court orders.  Of the approximately 18 servicemembers upon whom Saxon foreclosed without obtaining court orders, Saxon allegedly foreclosed on at least 10 servicemembers when Saxon knew or should have known about their military status.  The servicemembers Saxon foreclosed on include men and women who have served honorably in Iraq, some of whom were severely injured in the line of duty or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.  The Department of Justice initiated its SCRA investigation in response to an inquiry from Sergeant James Hurley, who resolved his claims against Saxon earlier this year in a confidential settlement.

Under the consent decree, Saxon will establish a settlement fund of $2.35 million to compensate the servicemembers upon whom Saxon allegedly wrongfully foreclosed between 2006 and 2009.  In addition to this settlement fund, Saxon also has agreed to compensate any additional SCRA-eligible servicemembers on whom Saxon foreclosed without court orders between July 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010.

Both companies have also agreed to repair any negative credit report entries related to the wrongful foreclosures, and to not pursue any remaining amounts owing under the mortgages. They will also now check the Defense Manpower Data Center’s website and their own files prior to conducting any foreclosure, and will not foreclose in violation of the SCRA if the borrower is in military service or is otherwise protected by the SCRA.

Servicemembers and their dependents who believe that their SCRA rights have been violated should contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office.  Please consult the military legal assistance office and click on the Legal Services Locator. Additional information about the Justice Department’s enforcement of the SCRA and the other laws protecting servicemembers are also available.


Thomas E. Perez has served as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice since 2009. Prior to his nomination, he served as Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Perez has served as a member of the Montgomery County, Md., Council and previously spent 12 years in federal public service, mainly as a career attorney in the Civil Rights Division.

 

 

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14 Comments

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  2. david December 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

    looking for some help with fixing a problem I felt affected me as a servicemember. Owned a house in washington state, came down on orders to relocate to another state. I had went through the mortgage company for help with a shortsale or even rent it. It eventually went back to the bank and its now on my credit report. What kind of letters of justification can be written to the credit bureau to remove this since I tried to get out of these orders and I could not. If you could help with this or refer me to a organization to help with this it would be appreciated.

  3. Gregory West November 12, 2011 at 1:28 am

    I have documents that show BofA constructed a scheme that resulted in its obtaining nearly one half million dollars in VAH, HUD and FHA guaranty money on just one purported loan; MINE. I have all documents that were ever given me, none of which are regarding the property I thought I was buying. The purported owner did not own the property and BofA knew this and paid him 58,000 for his participation. I received NO documents at the sham closing except five BLANK UNSIGNED various papers concerning nothing. I was (still am) a first time home buyer, BofA Loan Executive DID NOT SHOW AT SURPRISE CLOSING. I had a FICO of 541, bills that no honest man could pay, disabled (PTSD 100% Service Connected Totally & Permanently) and was separated from my wife and told “she is not a veteran and by law can not be a part of the signing..” also; I was told I would have thirty (30) days in which to examine the closing documents that my BofA Loan Officer would have the following day. If said documents were not acceptable, I could make a recision. (This was the excuse given of BLANK docs – that loan officer would meet with me the following day and have completed docs. I have never seen him again!) BofA reported to the credit bureaus of giving me as many as FOUR (4) different loans in FOUR (4) different states. When I sent a QWR, I received a reply that the “loan documents you requested are no longer available to us. It is suggested that you contact the title agency, they might be able to supply you with copies” BofA sent me documents to loans in Norfolk, Houston, and Phluggerville Texas. NO DOCS about the property in Oklahoma were ever given to me until BofA sued in foreclosure. Also, I received a letter stating that my COUNTRYWIDE loan was sent back to BofA, N.A. in July 2011. I was informed by foreclosure mill law firm; Baer, Timberlake, Coulson & Cates, P.C., that they were suing me for their client BAC Home Loans and filed foreclosure three (3) days after I received the letter of Debt Verification & Notification of Suit. BofA, N.A. did not have my purported mortgage and note when the suit was filed for it and NOT BAC Home loans as I was informed. BofA reported to me that my “note and mortgage” are owned by someone named GNMA1 BANA and NOT by BofA. I have never had business with Countrywide, BAC or GNMA1 Bana, have never seen a note or mortgage, documents provided as exhibits DO NOT match county records, my wife’s name is forged on some docs while it does not even appear in typed format on other copies of the SAME document! The appraisal shows and gives directions…

  4. Greg West September 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Though these ‘consent orders’ have the look of justice obtained, that is far from the truth. These banksters are criminals, have planned, conspired, enlisted the aid of others and executed felony criminal actions. Do you seriously categorize ALL Veterans as being so void of education and common sense not to see these ‘fines’ for what they really are? If a disabled Veteran comitted a felony crime in order to stay in a home wrongfullly foreclosed upon, say knock a bankster in the head, where would such a Veteran find him or herself? PRISON. Send these putrid, rancid money whores to jail! I now live in the street due to Bank of America creating a fradulent loan in my name, absconding with my ENTIRE entitlement of 417,000.00 to fund straw buyers in three states and ‘selling’ me a home that was owned by someone else! The OCC has even concluded that it found “multiple frauds on the part of Bank of America..” Did they do anything else? Well yes they did, they suggested I bring an action in a “court of competent jurisdiction” < an oxy moron) I merely wanted to report a crime, not sue. I have a letter BofA sent when after two years had passed and I had still NOT received any documents that were not blank regarding this purported loan, wherein BofA states it; "does not have the documents you have requested and will cease all attempts to locate same. It is suggested that you contact the title agent you hired, that office MAY have copies.." I never "hired" anyone and relied totally and completely upon the bank's agen; Jack Felts, to carry out his duties and obligations in an ethical and legal manner. I guess THAT makes it my fault!

  5. Jon June 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Mr. Perez,
    Thank you for taking the time to explain the intricacies of a law that is often not known about or not understood. Please do not take away that the comments left here are representative of all veterans.
    Come back anytime and share your thoughts on law and how it applies to veterans (particulary VA law).

  6. Richard Wickberg June 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    This discussion is a joke. Until we Vets can be protected from Discrimination at a VA Hosp. by uncaring doctors then this issue is moot!stch

  7. Richard Wickberg June 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    I am also a Veteran Disabled for Life (100% service connected).

  8. Richard Wickberg June 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Sir,

    My complaint deals with the Spokane VAMC’s dealing with Vets with PTSD and the Spokane VA’s Mental Health Psychiatric dept. head, Dr’s. “Sluffing off”, Veterans with PTSD or mental problems for asking for speedy medication/sedation upon admission (at Patty Murray’s Veteran’s Spokane News Conference in February. His bureaucratic answer was an insult to Veterans with PTSD and Mental Illnesses seeking admission to “HIS” hospital. We would not come in for “their help” if we were not in mental distress. It is not easy giving up our freedom to the lockdown style of the Spokane VAMC’s mental ward compared to that of the Seattle VA’s counterpart, let alone admit we need help. This delay in our treatment can result in our getting panic attacks; acting out and being denied admission to the VA Hosp. and committal to the County facility against our will. This is a SHAME we find hard to live down. We come to the Spokane VA for treatment and usually wait until we are under extreme distress before we admit to ourselves we need help and come to the VA. Then the Spokane VA drags it’s feet admitting us as our distress grows as we linger in the ER. Blood was taken but I could give a urine sample so I was forced to wait in the ER. We 60+ Vets can’t pee on demand!

    Further, it can take Spokane’s ER doctors up to 3 hours from entrance to the Urgent Care Unit before transferring us up to the Mental Health ward and then another two hours before we get medication! We older Vets can’t often pee on demand; are in mental distress and those things delay our admittance further! I thought the third nursing order is to “Make the patient comfortable”. This is NOT done for a PTSD and bi-polar Veterans at the Spokane VA Hosp.

    Here in Spokane, we can get faster and more compassionate care at Sacred Heart Med. Ctr. or a kennel than the Spokane VAMC

    I offer my “experience” with the Spokane VAMC, (02-10-2012 – 02-11-2012); from my call to the Veteran’s Suicide Prevention Center to the Urgent “`No’ Care” I received from the ER doctor and staff on my arrival and after. Upon arrival, I told the ER doctor I was in emotional distress, in my wife’s presence. A blood sample was taken: I was told I’d get no medication until I was admitted and “debriefed in hospital procedure. After an hour and a half of no medication, and being told I could not be admitted “Upstairs” until I peed (I never peed till 02-12-2012), I had a panic attack and ran out of the ER and hospital. I am officially classified with ”Severe Depression with psychotic interludes” I also suffer from claustrophobia and bi-polar disorder and you can read the results in the hospital report. A simple tranquilizer on entry would have humanely made the following incident not happen. As I was “led” back to the ER, I tried to tell the ER doctor I was having a panic attack – to no avail. I was placed in a 7’X11’ segregated room for over 28 hours where my claustrophobia combined with the panic attack & PTSD attack raged. The pillow in the room was urine yellow with a clean case. I was not given a clean pillow or a replacement after they took the dirty pillow and never gave me a replacement. I did act out my rage. I was finally offered a pill – eight hours after confinement. I was declared incompetent and involuntarily committed to the County Hosp. for 72 hours of observation – for want of a tranquilizer on admittance. I’d hate to be bleeding at the Spokane VA Urgent Care! During this “confinement”, I felt like a POW and acted as I’d been trained as a US Naval Sea Cadet from 1963-67. That’s where my mind frame had eroded under the Spokane VA’s care.

    I cannot get this incident out of my mind – I ruminate on it – and since this incident I’ve not heard from the VA’s suicide prevention aide, doctors or. Anyone. I’m in worse shape mentally now than in February and I’m afraid to go back to the VA. I have no trust in the Urgent Care Dept doctor and staff who “treated” me. You cannot imagine the shame I now live with because of this avoidable incident! I feel worse than before and don’t see the VA doing anything about it or admitting a procedural error or ever addressing my PTSD. My VA Therapist, Dr. Cogswell is of great help but only one small advocate. I have no communications with other Vets to compare and release my tensions. During this experience, I mentioned to Dr. Winters, I needed long-term help but was probably too old to get it – He AGREED! This was in the first four hours of my confinement. Now what future do I have to look forward to? At this point I have no hope.

    While locked in the VA’s “Skinner Box”. I was denied communication even with the patient advocate to explain neither my “situation” nor even a chaplain for spiritual help! The VA ER team refuses to admit this occurred, as they would never address the issue except in low voices I could hear and refuses to acknowledge this issue! I was thrown a committal order and had to beg for an attorney but was refused my glasses. I had to beg for a phone book. By the time I could decipher and call the Public Defender without the use of my glasses they were closed. How many Civil Rights violations? I was also openly threatened mocked and laughed at by doctors, nurses and attendees in my presence and at one point the ER doctor threatened to “give me a shot that would put me out and give me a bigger headache than I’ve ever had, and he’s treated me for migraines in the past. Medication was intentionally withheld.

    The County Hospital I was transferred to treated me with the respect and the dignity the VA disregarded. I was upgraded quickly and discharged as a voluntary inpatient. Still the pain from my VA experience remains and seers in my mind: I am almost in as bad mental condition as before and fear dealing with the VA Mental Health Dept. again. I am absolutely scared of the Spokane VA after this incident.

    Veterans with PTSD are not covered under The Americans With Disabilities Act, yet we served to defend the Act. We Vets with mental health problems have NO LEGAL RIGHTS or CIVIL RIGHTS! VA doctors & nurses and police alike mistreat us. Please check this out.

    Please visit the 3d floor Mental Health facility at the Spokane VA and compare it to Seattle. There is nothing to do while inpatient, the beds have 4” mattresses and the food and the treatment are a far cry from that we had as Soldiers or have at the Seattle VAMC. The environment is far worse than “sterile for high risk mental incompetents”. We Vets monitor each other, as the staff cannot or fathom. We cannot even earn “grounds privileges” to walk the VA grounds to pass time. We are prisoners on the ward and even the TV channels are censored to exclude The History Channel and other interesting

  9. Maurice Wyman Scott June 9, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Mr. Perez, I appreciate that you state that you protect our civil rights, but in fact, your agency is part of the larger problem. Some of us are sick, mentally, caused by the service to our country, but we did it with pride. When we got back, someone fooled us long ago, that the government would never turn its back on us, well, until you get to court. Somehow, when we get to court, we are just some niggers, poor white trash, or folks who can’t afford a real lawyer, and as long as you can get us to say we are guilty, then you win, and move on to the next poor soul. My civil rights, to be free, of oppression, free of blame when undeserved, free to live, but the part that you didn’t say, is when your mind gets screwed up, we will forget that we caused it, and as long as we can get you to say you are guilty, then that’s all we care about. The administration has changed, but the jim crow, south is still alive, taking us out of the voting pool as many as they can. I beleive when the government in open court says a person didnt really do something, but got caught up with folks that did, then thats a admission that they didn’t do it, but not in the South. Veterans diagnosed with PTSD, dissocialtive Identity disorder, having gotten them in service, but you the government claiming you are protecting our civil rights, well you just let them convict us, by getting a non-military or veterans doctor, to say, that the thing that the military or VA doctors says, isn’t whats wrong. So when you protect my civil rights, I will know it, because oppression will have ended, and unjustice will be reversed, but we know that will never happen, don’t we.

  10. Bill June 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    mr. perez is simply a political trying to get his name in print. Reservists all know userra and we are all briefed in scra. VA needs to concentrate on things they can control.

    Civil rights? Did you see the washington post today. VA isn’t protecting their patients…their have been a huge number of sexual assaults. Sexual assualts are not reported and resembles a 1950’s prison, according to one member of congress. It sounds like VA shouldn’t have perez preach about civil rights.

    While these sexual assaults are going on, VA employees in security are sending porno to perverts using their VA email. This guys got praised with a “you will be missed” by senior folks at VA.

    http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-530
    http://www.va.gov/oig/51/FY2011rpts/VAOIG-10-02858-102.pdf

    General Shinseki has failed his fellow veterans because he didn’t make enough personnel changes at VA in the senior career ranks. Sad, but true.

  11. Kevin June 8, 2011 at 9:34 am

    This only addresses some of the concerns of veterans. Not many veterans fall into the category of buying a home, then being deployed, and then being foreclosed on. Research the topic of how many reservists have a job, get deployed, then return to no job or discrimination and harrassment. That is a situation that needs to be addressed by congress. And the more deployments we go on, the worse it becomes. I used to be proud to put “Army Reservist” on a job application. I wouldn’t do it today if I wanted a job!

  12. Gabriel June 8, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Mr. Perez civil rights protection what? I can and I will cordially invite you to walk on my shoes. 1st terminated from employment because I had VA combat service connected appointment. 2nd Our rights so where are the continuity of claims an…d approvals. 3rd The way I take personal interest in each veteran that comes to me for assistance because the VA is not communicating; 4th the red tape a veteran has to go just to prove his disability and be recognized;5th PTSD, we are loosing brothers sister husnads wives families destroyed and PTSD not credulous to the system; 6th look at the reality of homeless veterans and let us just add some more to the list; The system fails because we veterans have to look after each other this way we can avoid

  13. Stephanie June 8, 2011 at 8:21 am

    You should help fight against the USFSPA for the sake of divorced retired military members who are forced to pay out up to 50% of their retainer pay to a former spouse FOR LIFE!!!

  14. allan graupman June 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    As a fan of world war II, as I am, I wonder if you play any video games such as “COMPANY OF HERO’S”, and other games that subject manner is World War II.

    thanks for the comments.

    alg

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