“The Walking Dead” is a television show about a world in chaos due to a zombie outbreak. The survivors face difficult decisions and run into trouble dealing with both zombies and the living.
In the real world, many servicemembers who protect our country run into financial trouble or face difficult financial decisions, but may not be aware of consumer protections that are available to them. Unfortunately, some servicemembers may be walking around in a financial fog, unprepared for dangerous threats to their financial well-being.
Protect yourself from a data breach
In “The Walking Dead,” zombies often breach homes and buildings seeking out unsuspecting humans as their victims. In real life, you may have read in the news about hackers breaching customer account information from merchants. If you are not taking steps to safeguard your information, you, too, could fall or may have already fallen victim to harm. Take a look at our consumer advisory on the steps you can take to protect your accounts. Be aware of specific protections for servicemembers, such as placing an Active Duty Alert on your credit report prior to leaving for active duty. Learn about additional protections by downloading our Fraud Alert fact sheet.
If you encounter a problem with debt collectors, know how to respond
Zombies follow their prey (the living) relentlessly. Likewise, some people are harassed or oppressed by some debt collectors who use illegal, harassing, or aggressive tactics in an attempt to collect a debt from consumers. This can be highly stressful. By understanding the limits of what debt collectors can say or do, and knowing how to respond appropriately if you experience a problem, you can respond to tactics that put your finances at risk. Also, as a servicemember, you have extra protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). For example, if you notify a creditor that you have gone onto active duty and provide the creditor a copy of your orders, you are entitled to have the interest rate on debts you owed before entering active duty reduced to six percent for the whole time you’re on active duty.
Keep your credit score from sliding downhill
In one episode of “The Walking Dead,” a character climbs out a window to escape a fierce group of zombies, but twists his ankle, causing him to lose ground in his attempt to escape. Did you know that making a slip such as missing credit card payments can hurt your credit score, which could impact your ability to borrow at an affordable rate in the future?
There are many steps you can take to get and keep a good credit score, such as always paying your bills on time and keeping your credit balance low in proportion to your overall credit limit. For more information, watch this webcast (hosted by our Office of Servicemember Affairs), which talks about credit scores and credit reporting and how you can take action to prevent slips or falls that could damage your overall credit standing.
We can help you find your way through the financial fog
Be proactive, know your rights and understand what laws are in place to protect you and your money. When a financial problem arises, speak with your installation’s Personal Financial Manager (PFM) and/or local JAG office to get free, expert advice and assistance. Be sure to keep documentation of all your commitments, efforts to resolve delinquencies, and any disputes about debts – it could be helpful to you later.
Ask CFPB has dozens of answers for military members. Whether you are seeking information about specific financial protections or applying for a car loan, the resources at the CFPB and our Office of Servicemember Affairs can help you take better control over your money and protect you from hidden financial dangers.
If you’re experiencing a problem with a financial product or service, you can submit a complaint online or call us at (855) 411-2372.
This article by Mechel Glass was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.