Here’s How Veterans Are Being Targeted for Crippling Loans

November 11, 2013

Although the nation's former enlisted personnel can receive a variety of benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA), many find themselves the targets of exploitative lending practices in the financial sector, such as bait-and-switch loan terms and 400 percent interest rates. Veterans usually can get financial aid through the VA and do not need to use more risky forms of lending; but many military members struggle with a lack of financial literacy and may not be familiar with standard loan terms or aware of what should be raise red flags. This also may make some veterans unwilling to speak out and ask questions about the loans being offered to them. Lenders additionally may actively solicit customers, such as the case of U.S. Navy veteran Andrea Chandler, who has a loan with VA assistance and yet still receives invitations in the mail to refinance.

"There is evidence that predatory lenders are engaged in reverse redlining; that is, they aggressively market in city areas that have traditionally found it difficult to obtain financing from conventional lenders," reports Iowa Legal Aid. "So while people in these areas once could not obtain any loans, now they are exposed to expensive and dangerous loans." Several efforts by Congress to encourage financial reform have never left committee or have lost their teeth by the time they reach the floor. Long-term reform should include financial transparency, create a ban on misleading marketing practices, and establish a task force to identify abusive lenders.

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