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Petraeus takes off the gloves

By Jay MacDonald ·
Monday, July 18, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

Just six months into her job as assistant director of the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Holly Petraeus is kicking butts and taking names of mortgage lenders who dare to mess with America's military families.

Last week, Petraeus, the wife of Gen. David Petraeus and daughter of Gen. William Knowlton, formally dressed down Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Saxon Mortgage and others at a joint Congressional forum on illegal service member foreclosures before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Holly Petraeus delivers tough talk to mortgage lenders. The question is, will they listen?

Her appearance coincided with the release of a Congressional report, "Fighting on the Home Front: The Growing Problem of Illegal Foreclosures Against U.S. Servicemembers," that fueled her tough talk.

Several mortgage servicing companies recently admitted to multiple violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, including foreclosing on service members who were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SCRA was passed in 2003 to protect active-duty service personnel from improper foreclosures, evictions and other financial consequences of military service. When a service member is called to active duty, SCRA has their back, lowering to 6 percent the interest rate on their mortgage and credit card loans. In 2009, Congress expanded protections under the little-known Homeowners Assistance Program to protect service members from calamitous loss due to the collapse of the housing market.

Petraeus expressed her outrage that any financial institution would ignore these protections.

"Service members should not have to struggle to get the protections they are due under the law. A National Guard wife once told me that her husband had been activated three times, and each time she had had to fight with their bank for months to get the SCRA interest rate reduction applied," she told the forum.

"As we've seen from the recent settlements with Bank of America, Saxon Mortgage and JPMorgan Chase over SCRA-related incidents, experiences like hers, reflecting lenders’ lack of compliance with other SCRA protections, have been far too common."

Petraeus noted that although foreclosure is devastating for any family, it's a "terrible situation" for military families -- both the family back home and the deployed service member who feels helpless to take action to prevent it.

While she acknowledged that the CFPB will not enforce SCRA (that job falls to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice), Petraeus pledged to make her office a conduit through which service member complaints are routed to the appropriate agency.

Mortgage lenders, you've been served: Mess with Holly Petraeus at your peril.

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Lo Note
August 15, 2011 at 10:47 pm

@John. Man, you just don't get it. Until you've walked in a soildiers shoes, you can't begin to understand the kind of sacrifices they make. As I kid I grew up in the military. Through no fault of our own, we saw some bleak times ... particularly while my father was deployed in Nam. I now work with military dependents on a military base. So I can speak from decades of first hand experience and observations. Yes, they volunteered. SO FRIGGEN WHAT! Your comment is harsh and thoughtless. Of course you do have the freedom to make such "un-informed" comments - just remember that it's our MILITARY that protects those freedoms. My hat's off and my utmost respect to all of our active duty and retired military. Good for Mrs. Petraeus! Unlike YOU "Mr. John", she is standing up for our service men and women.

August 13, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Why can't you figure it out John

August 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Military protects USA and all its interests. its not to much to ask Banks and loan cos to relax the rates when Miltary pays are far less than many activated persons get on their normal jobs. And any of you Liberals out there that dont like this, get off your dead asses a join yourself and see how you like it..

Patricia Wallace
August 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm

John, have you ever done anything to serve your country? Would you call yourself a patriot? Boy I sure would not. Until you have walked in their shoes, do not say nasty things about them.

August 13, 2011 at 7:24 pm

@John, Do you realize that their are many Soldiers who take a drastic pay cut while they are serving as a National Guardsman of the United States. Probably not, or else you would not have made the stupid comment that you posted. Those men and women who serve their country do it with the intention that their country will serve them when needed. So just be thankful that they exist so yo.u can enjoy your life.

August 13, 2011 at 3:02 pm

To John:
First off people who are no longer in the military (in-active reserves) are called back to duty all the time. So you take someone for example who was making $60,000 and can afford their mortgage is now back in the military making $30,000. Then you take active duty people who loose some of their cost of living benifits once they deploy, which the less you make the more ever little bit matters. Most importantly HOW about the fact they are putting their LIFE on the line for our country (which includes YOU)!!

August 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Where is my comment?????

August 12, 2011 at 11:38 am

Why should military people have any more protection than other citizens? All people in the military are there on a voluntary basis and no one forced them to join. If they can't handle their financial obligations with the military pay then get another job.

Joseph Gonzalez
August 06, 2011 at 8:40 pm

You go girl-that is the spirit, don't stop putting their feet to the fire-!

August 06, 2011 at 6:22 pm

So are any of the banksters going to jail, or even being fined, for flouting the law? No, I thought not.