January 01, 2018 GPSolo

The High Cost of Serving Your Country: Consumer Law Issues Affecting Veterans

Ariadne S. Montare

Veterans often find themselves struggling with high debt loads and poor credit as a consequence of frequent relocations and deployments. Those struggling financially may be particularly vulnerable to abusive and fraudulent consumer schemes. In 2003 the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) raised the alarm about consumer schemes that specifically target veterans and military servicemembers. In its report, entitled “In Harm’s Way—At Home: Consumer Scams and the Direct Targeting of America’s Military and Veterans” (http://tinyurl.com/y8bta79t), the NCLC focused on consumer-abusing businesses directly targeting military personnel, such as predatory lenders, check cashers, high-cost car dealers, overpriced insurance sellers, and more. These businesses, many of which are operating in violation of existing consumer protection laws, cluster around military bases, often right outside the gates. Because many servicemembers come from low-income families, they may enter service with few financial skills or savvy. When struggling financially, these individuals often feel pressured to participate in short-term but costly “fixes” without understanding the true costs or predatory nature of these products.

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