Unlike most other consumers, military service members can count on a guaranteed paycheck, twice a month. Military service members are not going to quit or be laid off. Their income stream is assured. In short, soldiers have steady cash flow that scammers can leverage.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

Holly Petraeus Defends and Protects Military Finances

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It's no secret: financially inexperienced military members are often taken advantage of by unscrupulous merchants and scammers.

But the word is out: a targeted branch of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau aims to prevent companies from taking unfair advantage of the military, especially younger military members.


In a longstanding tradition dating back to the Civil War, the federal government has sought to protect the military from legal and financial distractions while on active duty.

Holly Petraeus, a longtime advocate for military families, is at the forefront of the modern fight for military financial protection, as well as adding a new weapon against fraud: military financial education.

WHY IS THE MILITARY A TARGET FOR SCAMS?

Unlike most other consumers, military service members can count on a guaranteed paycheck, twice a month. Military service members are not going to quit or be laid off. Their income stream is assured. In short, soldiers have steady cash flow that scammers can leverage.

HOLLY PATRAEUS AND THE NEW CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY

In 2010, new financial rules and laws were set in place, expanding the fiscal protection of military service members. These rules mandated that a new consumer bureau office be created to focus specifically on protecting military service members.

President Obama called on Holly Petraeus, wife of former Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, former commander of armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan who went on to direct the CIA.

Ms. Petraeus was familiar with how some companies target members of the military. She and General Patraeus had also fallen victim to a military targeted scam early in their military career: they agreed to a one-year rental property sight unseen, and, upon arriving, discovered themselves in "a terrible brick box" in a high-crime neighborhood - not what had been described to them at all.

It happens all the time. Military members who are constantly moving into new communities are searching for new services. These military families are most likely to be enticed by large-scale advertisers who overinflate their prices, and yet promise that they have the best interests of military service members at heart.

PROTECTIONS FOR MILITARY SERVICEMEMBERS

In September 2011, Holly Patreus' used her new office to begin seeking public input on financial products for service members and their families, in order to develop financial education and outreach programs for military servicemembers.

Military servicemembers can get reduced interest rates on mortgage payments, protection from eviction in some cases, and delays in bankruptcy and other legal proceedings.

Those military protections were expanded in 2003 to prevent foreclosures on service members on active duty, and to limit interest on mortgages to 6% during active duty. In 2007, Congress capped the interest rate at 36% for such loans to military members.

Even with federal laws to protect your military finances and a consumer agency office to police them, there is still a very small group of businesses that try to exploit soldiers.

BEWARE MILITARY AUTO DEALS

While Patraeus' consumer bureau addresses a variety of unscrupulous financial practices for all sorts of products and services aimed at the military, one area the new consumer agency can't police is auto dealers.

Patraeus advises military service members to get a financial education through her office, to learn to spot and avoid bad car deals - or any other bad military loans or deals - in the first place.

Petraeus says her goal is to educate service members to understand that sometimes, the biggest billboard advertising the lowest prices and located closest to the base, is far from the best deal.



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