Lending giant JP Morgan Chase is working to increase protections for military borrowers after the company overcharged thousands of service members and improperly foreclosed on more than a dozen.
The company is already in the process of refunding 4,000 military members about $2 million for violating provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides active duty service members with a grace period prohibiting foreclosure and capping interest rates at 6 percent.
Chase officials acknowledged the errors last month in the wake of an NBC News investigation. They're now rolling out a series of steps aimed at boosting borrower confidence and repairing the company's image.
Starting April 1, Chase will lower rates for eligible borrowers to 4 percent while on active duty and for a year following. Veterans who served on active duty as far back as Sept. 11, 2001, will also be eligible to participate in a mortgage modification program, provided they're delinquent or otherwise struggling to make payments.
Chase will also no longer foreclose on currently deployed personnel. Beyond that, service members who are foreclosed upon in violation of the SCRA will have the sale rescinded and their remaining mortgage debt forgiven.
The company also pledged to donate 1,000 homes to military members over the next five years.
"The programs we are announcing today are a start, but in no way a finish," Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a news release. "We deeply apologize to our military customers and their families for these mistakes. We cannot undo them, but we can take accountability for them, fix them and learn from them. Today we want to begin a new way forward with the military and veteran community to make serving them a core part of how we operate our business every day. Our servicemen and servicewomen deserve nothing less."
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