Know your rights
If you’re an active duty member of the armed forces or are on active Guard or Reserve duty, the Military Lending Act (MLA) says that you can’t be charged an interest rate higher than 36% on some types of consumer loans like certain payday loans, auto title loans, and tax refund anticipation loans. It also protects your spouse and certain dependents.
Your rights under the MLA include:
• A 36% interest cap. You cannot be charged more than a 36% Military Annual Percentage Rate (MAPR), which includes the following costs:
- credit service charges
- credit renewal charges
- credit insurance premiums
- other fees for credit-related products sold in connection with the loan
• Written and oral disclosure. Creditors must tell you the interest rates and other fees you owe, both orally and in writing, before a loan is issued.
• No roll-over loans. A creditor cannot “roll-over” or refinance the same loan, unless the new loan results in more favorable terms for you. This rule helps to make sure you will not get stuck with a loan that becomes more expensive to pay back every few months.
• No mandatory waivers of consumer protection laws. Creditors cannot require you to waive any state or federal law, including the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which protects servicemembers from being sued while on active duty.
• No mandatory arbitration. Creditors cannot require you to submit to arbitration (read more about arbitration here: www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/739/what-mandatory-binding-arbitration), which is when an outside party decides how a dispute should be resolved instead of a court.
• No mandatory allotments. A creditor cannot require you to create a voluntary allotment in order to get the loan. An allotment is an automatic amount of money taken from your paycheck to pay back your loan.
• No prepayment penalty. A creditor cannot charge a penalty when you pay back part or all of a loan early.
Tip: If you have an issue with a consumer loan, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/. We’ll forward your complaint to the company and work to get a response from them.
Contact your local Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) office to learn more about lending restrictions. You can also seek assistance from your installation financial readiness office.
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, www.consumerfinance.gov