Fort Bliss hopes to end predator loans

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 7:42pm

Because many service members are on a low fixed income, and often struggle to find outside work that can support themselves and their families.

Many have fallen prey to financial lenders including payday storefronts. Their inability to pay back the extremely high interest has led to ruin for many military families.

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard cites a case where a soldier needed money in a crisis, and borrowed a nightmare.

"He ended up going to a predatory lender outside the gates of one of our posts and signed a contract for $1,600, where he would have to pay over a 30-plus period of times, $500 a month, so he paid $15,000 for $1,600," said Pittard.

Stories like that led Holly Petraeus to Fort Bliss today.

The wife of General (ret.) David Petraeus heads the Office of Service Member Affairs for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She describes many of the so-called predatory lending practices that not only cause financial despair for our soldiers, but which can also distract them from performing their military duties including deployment.

She's spreading the word about better choices for members of all military branches.

"Every branch does have some kind of relief society that does make grants and loans. The Army's is called Emergency Relief. There are programs where they can get no interest loans through Emergency Relief, and we want them to be aware of those but if they do go to a financial institution, that they focus not on monthly payments but what it will actually cost them in terms of finance charges," said Petraeus. 

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