After hearing last week about a Beaufort Marine’s battle with J.P. Morgan Chase, members of Congress have demanded the bank be held accountable for failing to provide active-duty military personnel with financial protections granted in federal law.
Chase, the nation’s second-largest bank, admitted it improperly foreclosed on 18 servicemembers and overcharged some 4,500, a bank official said last week in testimony before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
Bank officials apologized for those errors, but several committee members said someone must take responsibility for them.
Committee chairman U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said he is heartened Chase is attempting to fix the problems it found. The banks and the Department of Defense should make certain servicemembers receive the protections they’re due, he said.
“More must be done to ensure that this never happens again,” Miller said in a statement.
U.S. Marine Capt. Jonathon Rowles, a fighter-jet pilot stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, has sued the bank in federal court and appeared before the committee with his wife, Julia, and his lawyers.
Rowles alleges the bank repeatedly violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act during his recent deployment by threatening to foreclose on his Colorado home, requiring him to verify his active-duty status every 90 days for more than two years and aggressively seeking to collect more than he owed on the 2004 mortgage.
The law, designed to protect active-duty military personnel from financial stress, allows them to receive mortgage-rate reductions and protects them from foreclosure. Rowles' lawyers, who include Bill Harvey of the Beaufort law firm Harvey & Battey, seek class-action status for the case and are urging Congress to strengthen the law.