Veterans and Servicemembers: Find Help to Tackle Debt, Scams and Fraud

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We'' re going to do some education initiatives When they sign up with the military and when they get out to offer them some opportunity for financial training We'' re looking at their grievances We get a large number of them so we'' ve been keeping track of those We'' re been able to get back a significant amount of money for service members who have actually come to us with complaints And I work with other federal agencies on problems that impact the military and likewise the states And the state'' s general lawyer and state ' s veterans affairs. Sure, I will say that debt collection is at this point our number one problem Both from customers and also the military When someone submits a problem with CFPB, we do ask them if they are military or experienced or a dependent of one of those It is the number one grievance We simply began taking complaints in 2013 So it shows you it'' s truly on everybody ' s mind.A lot of them are suffering from a really bad practices from collectors who are doing a number of things Hounding them, calling them at work Threatening to get them demoted Trying to get their security clearance pulled Just a lot of things that are not in line with the Fair Debt Collections Act So if we have a veteran or service member feel that debt collectors are not treating them properly, They can submit a complaint with us at consumerfinance.gov or at 855-411-CFPB They can likewise believe about going to their state lawyer generals office due to the fact that they all have a consumer division And they are really interested understanding about people who are breaking the law within their state Wonderful, Marietta, anything you want to include dealing with financial obligation collectors? There'' s a couple of things we ' ve attended to just recently. Don'' t forget the'state ' s veterans affairs, put on ' t forget about us, however also don'' t fall for somebody that informs you they can help you get your money benefits rapidly and ensure them since that'' s likely a scam.That ' s fantastic guidance. They presumed that they would be delinquent on their home mortgages and I had to go in and discuss No really they might not be behind on their payments but they'' re going to be if they can ' t get this situation repaired.

Video Transcript:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/15_rfE02pSw Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Milcetich here with USA.gov Welcome to today'' s Google Hangout Im signed up with by our very own Marietta Jelks, the editor in chief of the Consumer Action Handbook and Holly Petraeus, our unique guest who leads the Consumer Financial Protection Burueas Office of Servicemember Affairs. Marietta and Holly are here today to answer questions from our servicemembers and veterans about dealing with rip-offs, scams, debt and other subjects. Prior to we get begun, Marietta and Holly will you take a minute to introduce yourselves? As Jess discussed Im the editorial director of USA.govs Consumer Action Handbook, your complimentary guide to being a notified consumer.Whether youre planning to purchase a vehicle, protect yourself from ID theft, file a problem about something you purchased; or you are a servicemember impacted by financial obligation collectors or fraud the Consumer Action Handbook is a important and totally free tool for you. Download or buy your totally free copy of the Handbook at publications.usa.gov. Hi everybody, I'' m Holly Petraeus here. I'' m one of the assistant directors here at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau I head their workplace of Service Member Affairs And my job is actually to watch out for service members and their households in numerous ways to see that they get the financial information to make much better informed decisions, to monitor their problems and react to those complaints And likewise to deal with other federal and state companies on customer protection measures for the military So type of a large camping tent that I operate under The bottom line is I'' m here to see Veterans and service members and retired people households are treated fairly in their customer financial actions Wonderful.Thank you so much for joining us. We'' re so happy have you join us. So let'' s get begun. Marietta, we understand there are scammers out there who specifically pursue our veterans and servicemembers. Could you tell us a little bit more about some of the common scams and scams our military members face? Servicemembers are prime targets. Affinity scams is one case where investment promoters and salesmen target servicemembers, with phony financial investment opportunities Another scams that specifically affects veterans is pension poaching where deceitful financial advisers declare that they can help veterinarians get approved for VA Aid and Attendance advantages Another is to their Medicaid advantages, if you move your cash into a trust.What they do not tell you is that these actions could make you lose your eligibility for Medicaid services and you d need to repay the Aid and Attendance advantages which is regrettable. Those are simply a couple monetary things. And a great deal of scams that target veterans Well thank you for that background It'' s a pity to hear there'' s many rip-offs aimed to service members and veterans thankfully there is aid readily available that CFPB offers. Holly, can you tell us a little about the CFPB and what the Office of Servicemember Affairs provides for veterans and servicemembers? Sure let me talk a little about the CFPB The company was produced in reaction to the economic meltdown back in 2008 when all those poisonous mortgages written and nearly took our economy off a cliff One concern from the President and Congress asked who is really looking out for consumers when all this happened and the answer was There was a lot of monetary laws on the books however the enforcement was expanded amongst 7 different federal firms So they decided they would develop a company particularly to take care of customers and migrate the enforcement of those laws over to it and that is the CFPB We opened our doors in July 2011 so we'' re newcomers We are here to see the markets work for consumers They can see what they'' re getting That those who utilize tricks can'' t revenue from them And we have guidance power that indicates we can see and go what companies are doing We can also impose versus those who are breaking those laws My workplace has an extremely military specific focus I hate to see a service member sign a bad contract.I want them all to be educated enough not to do that. We'' re going to do some education initiatives When they join the military and when they get out to give them some opportunity for monetary training We'' re looking at their grievances We get a big number of them so we'' ve been monitoring those We'' re been able to get back a substantial quantity of money for service members who have actually come to us with complaints And I work with other federal agencies on problems that impact the military and also the states And the state'' s basic attorney and state ' s veterans affairs. Quite a lot going on and all that to make things work for those who serve It'' s actually fantastic to know that all those resources are out there And you find out about the work you do I understand we have a lot of concerns from people so we ought to just jump right in particular concerns We got great deals of people asking for advice on dealing with debt collectors. That appears to be a really big issue throughout the board. Holly, where can servicemembers and veterans opt for assistance if they are having problems with a financial obligation collector? Sure, I will say that debt collection is at this point our primary complaint Both from customers and also the military When somebody submits a problem with CFPB, we do inquire if they are veteran or military or a reliant of among those It is the primary grievance We simply started taking complaints in 2013 So it reveals you it'' s actually on everyone ' s mind.A lot of them are experiencing a really bad practices from collectors who are acting of things Hounding them, calling them at work Threatening to get them demoted Trying to get their security clearance pulled Just a lot of things that are not in line with the Fair Debt Collections Act So if we have a veteran or service member feel that financial obligation collectors are not treating them appropriately, They can file a problem with us at consumerfinance.gov or at 855-411-CFPB They can likewise think of going to their state lawyer generals workplace since they all have a customer division And they are extremely interested learning about individuals who are breaking the law within their state Wonderful, Marietta, anything you desire to include dealing with financial obligation collectors? When you deal with financial obligation collectors, I just desire to advise folks that you have rights. There are limitations on when and where they can contact you. They cant call you prior to 8 am or after 9 pm nor can they call you at work if you inform them your employer disapproves. They have to stop contacting you. There are likewise restricts on what they can say Collectors cant pester you, make false declarations or claim that youll be apprehended if you dont pay the financial obligation. So there are limits there. If you do not want to be called by a debt collector even if you owe cash you have a right to stop them from contacting you. And you have the right to send a certified letter asking the financial obligation collector to stop contacting you and they need to comply with this demand. That'' s actually great to understand. Prior to we finish up the topic of financial obligation, exist any resources offered to help them deal with financial obligation collection problems? On our site, consumerfinance.gov we do have actually a section called ask CFPB We have lots of FAQs about financial issues and certainly debt collection is one of those problems. There'' s a tab you can click that says financial obligation collection. You can discover a lot of answers to those common questions about what your circumstance may be. what the collector can do and say In addition to answers we likewise have some template letters you can utilize to assist you compose a letter back to that debt collector.Letters that state things like I desire to know more about this debt Or I don'' t think this financial obligation is mine Or you require to stop contacting me There'' s a variety of design template letters we believe may be useful I believe it can be really intimidating if you have a debt collector being really aggressive on the phone and you do not understand what to address Sometimes it even assists if you can take an action back and go take a look at our site We can answer some of those concerns And you can send that letter or utilize it as a model of what to state to them Things like show me the financial obligation is mine Because oftentimes, financial obligation collectors because many cases financial obligation collectors buy up old debt for pennies on the dollar And it might turn out that the info they got was incorrect on a financial obligation you paid off ages ago however they'' re going to keep hounding you for it We wish to aid with some strategies that make them stop That sounds great.Thank you for sharing that. I believe that'' s definitely something questions about letting individuals understand their are resources out there. Thank you for letting individuals about that. Another location that we likewise got concerns specifically from relative of disabled servicemembers or veterans. They desired to know if there are any unique protections against scams/fraud for those who are disabled/handicapped? There'' s a couple of things we ' ve resolved just recently. In fact, we got a couple blogs on our site that you can look at One is, if you'' re getting social security special needs earnings, there have been some issues where individuals have actually tried to certify for example for a home mortgage and they'' ve had the lender show that they are disabled to get a physician'' s keep in mind stating for how long they'' re going to be handicapped basically a great deal of details they shouldn'' t be asked for The CFPB did install some guidance stating its not ok to do this If the VA has declared the service member handicapped, then they'' re disabled. You'put on ' t requirement to discover out more details about the nature or duration. We also did a blog site about sometimes where the service member is 100% disabled the probability that they'' ll be able to … and they have student loans … they might never ever be in that position to earn the complete salary where they can settle those loans There is a provision where they may have the ability to get those loans forgiven.We desire them to be familiar with that and desire them to know We likewise desire to if they'' ve done that process and The loan forgiveness has actually been reported incorrectly to the credit bureaus And its negative on their credit scores which reduces scores considerably If that occurs we wish to know about it for sure And to mention a few other things. We do have an office for Older Americans and they put out a series of guides called “” Managing somebody else'' s money” And one of those guides are about individuals who handle the cash for veterans It might be something that can be very relevant for someone attempting to manage finances a badly handicapped veteran.It'' s a complimentary guide you can get at our agency Lastly, one rip-off that we do see a great deal of is directed truly to veterans and the fraudsters get hooks in the veterans by assuring that they will get them group advantages quickly In specific one called “” aid in attendence”” which is created for badly handicapped veterans who dont have much cash and need help with day-to-day activities of life it might be a couple thousand dollars a month but fraudsters utilize that to ensure they can get those benefits essentially a way to enter into the veterans finances. Sometimes to clean them out or if they have too much money to certify they'' ll move their money into something that the veterans can'' t access and then state they certify because they have no money. We saw one case where the veteran put their cash into an annuity where he wasnt able to access until he was 90 something years old. Don'' t forget the'state ' s veterans affairs, don ' t ignore us, but also wear'' t succumb to somebody that informs you they can assist you get your cash benefits quickly and ensure them because that'' s likely a scam.That ' s excellent recommendations. Thank you for sharing all of that. We'' re going to switch subjects one more time and proceed to another topic that was exceptionally popular: handling home loans. Navigating that minefield can be difficult. Holly, can you inform us about some of the problems you'' ve seen and what resources you used to help individuals who'' ve grumbled? Home loans were actually one of the first problems I heard a lot about. When the housing market went south, a lot of individuals owned homes and saw their worth drop to a point where we call undersea where your home was not longer what was owed for it For active service members that was a real problem due to the fact that they owned a home, they were making their payments, however your house had gone undersea and then the servicemember would get orders to transfer to a new task station and even overseas What do they do then? They got a home that they can'' t sell enough to pay off.I found because first year a lot of the federal programs were kinda one size fits all and did not consider the special obstacles that servicemember households face. They presumed that they would be overdue on their mortgages and I needed to go in and explain No actually they may not be behind on their payments but they'' re going to be if they can ' t get this situation fixed. We had the ability to get some changes made. Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mack all changed policy to state that Military forced move qualified as a challenge without the service member being overdue And then I pressed it and went farther of occupation.That'' s not the way it works for service members. In 37 years of active service life, I ' ve moved 24 times. We can'' t stay in a house. What some service members were doing was leaving their family in a house and passing themselves which was unfortunate. We did get Treasury to alter their HAMP program to say they still think about the home owner inhabited if the service member meant to come back to it And did not however a home elsewhere. So that I believe was really helpful. In the end the Federal Housing Agency and Freddie Mac which is about more than half of all United States home loans They picked the basis of what we discussed They would state if a service member would need to do a short sale In other words sell your home except what they owed They would forgive the distinction of what they had sold it for and what they owed and what they owed which was a genuine, extremely amazing advancement And that entered into impact November 2012 That'' s very pleasing to see that occur and to be able to start seeing that military life can be unique in methods While programs are planned to do excellent, they don'' t constantly fit that neighborhood In a way that they would typically impact normal people My office likewise works a lot with the VA Home Loan Program In July 2011, our first grievance category we opened was credit cards.But we had lots of individuals hiring about home loans and calling with grievances that couldn'' t wait. To put it simply about to be foreclosed So we believed what can we do? We arranged to have them connected to real estate counselor assistance but I also spoke to the VA Home Loan Program They said if they'' re veterans, we desire you to refer them to us since we might understand about advantages they get approved for that could assist in this situation We'' ve had a great relationship with the VA and they also have a version of a brief sale loan That would certainly be another resource for service members to believe about The VA Home Loan or if they have another type of problem they can submit a problem with us Or once again they can go to AskCFPB and ideally discover some answers That'' s actually excellent. It ' s excellent to hear the steps you made. We ' re glad you had the ability to get companies to take a look at some of these distinct problems that service members and veterans and their households may have.Marietta, I understand theres a great deal of excellent info in the Consumer Action Handbook for individuals who are wanting to get a home loan and even refinance. Can you share a couple of the leading things people should know? Sure, A couple of things here. Housing is among the most significant decisions that consumers make There are a couple of elements that we address. 1. Think of when you'' re buying a house, Shop for your real estate agents, brokers, for a bank home loan brokers with your states department of banking, customer security workplace or licensing agencies to see if there are grievances on record for them Make sure to check accreditations and licenses. Make certain there aren'' t complaints or records of incorrect doing. Also, look around for rate of interest and get quotes from numerous loan providers for the exact same loan quantity so you can compare the choices. Lastly If youre believing about refinancing, you require to determine if the quantity of cost savings on your home mortgage payments will be greater than refinancing expenses like appraisals, modifications in taxes, early termination charge for paying off your present home mortgage for a brand-new refinanced one.Those are just a couple of tips. There are numerous other things offered especially your rights and limits with paying loans. Simply ensure you'' re able to do your homework while going shopping so you can truly get an excellent deal That'' s an excellent point you bring up about doing your research to discover a much better deal. I understand we have shared a great deal of great details today, so lets wrap up with one final question to pull all of this together.Holly, we'' ll start with you. And Marietta you can answer. Our last question, are there things that veterans and servicemembers can do to protect themselves as customers? What are ways they can become smarter consumers when they are making huge choices? There'' s a number of things they can do One is simply to be an informed customer They should all inspect their credit report That'' s one of the first things that they ought to do AnnualCreditReport.com which is the main site where they can get it for totally free Despite all the memorable advertising you may see They may discover a surprise If you have a common name, you might have somebody else ' s details'on your credit report. So even if you understand you'' ve done whatever right, that doesn'' t imply your credit rating is error free, but you can fix that If you see an error you can get in touch with the credit bureau and say this isn'' t my financial obligation Or this is a debt I paid off If you'don ' t get fulfillment from that, we desire to hear a complaint due to the fact that we do supervise the credit firms So examine your credit report, that'' ll give you a concept of the sort of rate of interest that you might get If you'' re going to invest cash with somebody, check out their qualifications at the financial regulative authority FINRA.org They have a broker check that you can search for We had a fraud in North Carolina where they scammed 8million of peoples' ' money Obviously buyer beware Check the overall expense of the product Don'' t focus on the month-to-month payment- often how its marketed What'' s the overall expense? And wear'' t let yourself be rushed into a decision.You can always leave and say let me believe about this. If you'' re active armed force, you can take it to your JEG You can do some research and see if you can get a better deal You'' ll save yourself a great deal of heartache if you do a few of those things prior to you sign on the dotted line Once you sign the contract, it'' s very difficult to leave it. In some cases you might be spending for that error for several years And one last reminder Ask CFPB, consumerfinance.gov Wonderful! Marietta, do you have anything you wished to include? She covered a great deal of great details. But I have a few other things I would suggest purchasing the customer action handbook. You can get a copy at publications.usa.gov or download an electronic variation for your e-reader The handbook covers a lot of information. It'' s part of our broad range of customer problems to help you be a smarter consumer. Utilize your resources. Holly spoke about the JEG officers. Speak with individuals in your community to identify the companies who are reputable.Avoid dubious companies They have a great pulse on what that neighborhood has to offer. Benefit from that. Along with using details from other federal government companies. Holly has discussed a lot of CFPB resources, but CFPB is not the only firm that has terrific info. USA.gov has a lot of info for customers, military and veterans. FTC, VA, etc. those are all fantastic resources to tap into As well as the state consumer security workplaces due to the fact that in sometimes a great deal of consumer associated concerns are regulated on a state level For instance if you purchase a car and it breaks down 10x in a month You may have a limit however that'' s controlled on a state level vs a federal level So having the ability to use those resources is essential Also take benefit of some protections that you have a military personnel You can put an active service alert on your credit report So no one can obtain deceitful credit while you'' re deployed That'' s a terrific protection.It will provide you piece of mind to know you'' re protected from identity theft. They'' re rampant. That'' s one of the top complaint locations that we become aware of. Make certain you'' re reading contracts before signing. Don'' t get pressured into purchasing things or high pressure methods Dont sign things with blank areas Just being notified and asking concerns from people who can lead you in the right direction. Well I believe we are almost out of time for today. Thank you to everyone who tuned in to view today I desired to thank Holly and Marietta for sharing all of these wonderful resources. If you still have concerns or a need to file a problem you can get in touch with the CFPB at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/. And if you do desire to get a copy of the customer action handbook, you can get that at publications.usa.gov thank you once again for joining us!. As found on YouTube – Creative Commons License

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