Verifications under the
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)
50 U.S.C. App 501 et seq.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 U.S.C. Appx. 501 et seq., herein "SCRA"1) is the successor to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Relief Act. It offers protections for persons in active military service. The protections may include 6% interest on some loans (notwithstanding the terms of the original loan), and halting court judgments, evictions and foreclosures. "Military Service" covers seven agencies (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force, as well as certain employees of the National Health Service and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration. (See SCRA § 511(2)).
It is important to note that the SCRA provides protection not only to persons on active military service but may also apply after termination of active military status. Foreclosures, for example, are invalid if conducted during or within 1 year2 after a servicemember's period of military service. The court could review the promissory notes that gave rise to the foreclosure and could change the mortgage payment and maturity date. Similarly, the 6% interest rate cap extends one year after termination of a servicemember's period of military service. §527(a).
There are dangers in proceeding against someone without verifying if the person is in active military service. A person who knowingly causes a foreclosure or seizure or attempts to do so in contravention of the SCRA is subject to imprisonment. (see §533 (d))
Until now, searches under the SCRA only provided confirmation of whether a person was or was not in active military status. This resulted in a severe vulnerability: there was no ability to verify if a servicemember was within his/her period of post-service protection. Effective May 22, 2012, the military active duty verifications provided by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service (www.
At the SCRACVS site, active duty vertification/miliary affidavit verifications may be conducted without a social security number or date of birth, provided that other identifying information (such as addresses) is provided. The DMDC site, on the other hand, will not permit a dispositive search without the SSN. The SCRACVS has other data available to it to conduct the dispositive searches often required by courts.
Courts universally require an affidavit before a plaintiff may receive a judgment against an individual and may require subsequent verifications before certain enforcement of judgments is sought. Those affidavits should now indicate the active duty termination date, if applicable because some protections survive the termination date. The affidavits are sometimes referred to as "military affidavits", "non-military affidavits", "affidavits in compliance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act", "SCRA Affidavits", "active duty affidavit", "military verification affidavit", and "50 U.S.C. App. 533 Affidavit".
1 The Act is the successor to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940. The SCRA is sometimes and erroneously referred to as the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act, Servicemember's Civil Relief Act, Service Member Civil Relief Act, Service Member's Civil Relief Act, Servicemembers Civil Release Act, and similar.
2 Section 533. Public Law 112-154 passed on August 6, 2012 extended the period to one year, and expires on 12/31/2013, at which time, it would appear that the period would revert to 90 days. On the other hand, §522, which applies to other proceedings, remains at 90 days.