When you’re searching for information about military personnel, you may try to find their military service number as a means to discover the information you are looking for. However, using this service number will only work for older veterans. That’s because the Department of Defense stopped using military service numbers in 1974. Thus, you will only be able to find information using a military service number if the servicemember served between 1918 and 1974.
Switching to the Social Security Number
After 1974, the DOD began using Social Security numbers instead of service numbers. This muddies up the searching process a bit for military personnel, because a military service number is a public information, while a Social Security number is private.
Oftentimes lenders or those who do business with enlisted service members need to perform military verification searches. That’s because if their customer is in the military, they must take certain steps when attempting to collect debts from them in order to avoid violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
What Is the SCRA?
The SCRA is a law that protects enlisted service members and officers (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and in some instances National Guard and Reserves) from some court actions, including eviction, foreclosure, and repossession, without a court order.
The SCRA also mandates an interest rate of no higher than 6% on loans to military personnel while they are on active duty and deployed. This includes mortgages, car loans, student loans, personal loans, pawnshop loans, and credit card debt.
Most often when military personnel takes out loans or open credit accounts, the lender or merchant asks for their Social Security number. Having a Social Security number makes it much easier to search and discover whether your customer was active duty military at the time they signed a contract with you.
How to Do Military Verification Searches
It is recommended that lenders and merchants routinely do military verification searches for all their customers. Although the customer should let creditors know when they go on active duty, they are not always able to do this in a timely manner, due to the nature of their service, and the SCRA says they have 180 days after their deployment ends to file for the special rate.
As a lender, it may be challenging for you to receive a request like this from a service member and retroactively calculate how much you owe them in interest rates and fees. It is easier – and safer – to do regular military verification searches.
However, these searches can be time-consuming and sometimes fruitless.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service
That’s why so many lenders and merchants use the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service. We perform military verification searches for clients, and we offer batch pricing for those who have a large number of clients to search every month.
We get results to you (encrypted) regarding which of your customers is or was in the service on a particular date, usually within 24 hours of your request. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s so much cheaper than risking a lawsuit for violating the SCRA.
Multi-Million-Dollar Settlements with the DOJ
The Department of Justice has filed suit against many banks, property management companies, and those who lease cars or finance car loans, all in the millions of dollars. When you consider the sheer number of service members and how each of them may have a number of credit cards open as well as a mortgage, car loan or another type of loan, you can see how without performing regular searches, it would be easy to violate the SCRA.
Use the SCRACVS for your military searches, and never worry about SCRA compliance.