Even those people putting their lives on the line for their country may not be safe from the American foreclosure crisis.
Ten lenders are reviewing close to 5,000 foreclosures of homes belonging to active-duty service members in an attempt to discover if they were carried out improperly, according to data from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, cited by the Financial Times. The OCC's report is based on projections prepared by the lenders and and their consultants. Bank of America said it is reviewing 2,400 foreclosures of homes belonging to active-duty service members and Wells Fargo said it's looking at nearly 900 cases. Citigroup is reviewing 700 foreclosures, the bank said.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief act aims to protect active-duty members of the military from financial difficulty, including through measures that restrict foreclosures on properties owned by active-duty military members. Still, as the OCC data indicates, thousands of active-duty members of the armed forces have lost their homes while fighting abroad.
Bank of America and Morgan Stanley reached deals with the Justice Department earlier this year, agreeing to pay more than $20 million to settle claims that they foreclosed on more than 175 active-duty service members without court orders.
They're not the only ones. JPMorgan Chase also admitted to illegally foreclosing on the families of 27 active-duty military members earlier this year and has very publicly attempted to give the families back their homes or compensate them for damages if the house was sold.
The bank also agreed to pay $27 million in cash to about 6,000 active-duty service members who were overcharged on their mortgages, Bloomberg reports.
Illegal foreclosures have affected service members like U.S. Army Sgt. James Hurley who lost his house to foreclosure while he was serving in Iraq. Tim Collette said in June that he had been negotiating with JPMorgan Chase since 2008 to save his house from foreclosure while his son was serving in Iraq.Though illegal foreclosures may be some of the most egregious examples of lenders mistreating service members, banks have wronged members of the military in other ways. An October lawsuit claims that 13 banks and mortgage companies charged hidden and illegal fees from veterans trying to refinance their homes.