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Soldiers Debts and Debt Collectors

Soldier Debt and Debt Collectors

1) Members of the [Army] are expected to pay their just financial obligations in a proper and timely manner. A Service Member’s failure to pay a just
financial obligation may result in disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

2) The Army has no legal authority to force Soldier’s to pay their debts. Also, the Army cannot divert any part of a Soldier’s pay even though
payment of the debt was decreed by civil court. Only civil authorities can enforce payment of private debts.

3) Creditors that comply with the provisions of Chapter 4, AR 600-15 will have their debt complaints processed by commanders.

4) The Army does not try to judge or settle disputed debts or admit or deny whether claims are valid.

5) The Army will not act as a collection agency.

Company Commander Responsibilities
1) Process debt complaints that meet the criteria in Chapter 4, AR 600-15. Chapter 2, AR 600-15 provides guidance on returning complaints that do
not comply with Chapter 4.

2) Processing debts basically amounts to formally informing the Soldier of the claim of indebtedness against them. Chapter 2, paragraph 2-1, AR
600-15 provides detailed guidance to commanders in processing debt complaints.

3) Provide financial management counseling for Soldiers that have problems in meeting valid debts. Army Community Service provides financial
management counseling.

4) Notify the battalion commander of instances of Soldier’s repeated failure to pay their debts. Also, point out actions taken or contemplated to
correct the situation.

5) If a Soldier is not trying to resolve unpaid debts promptly or complaints of repeated failure to pay debts are received, commanders will consider
the following actions

a) Making the failure a matter of permanent record.
b) Denial of reenlistment.
c) Administrative separation from the Service.
d) Punishment under the UCMJ.

Upon Receipt of Debt Complaint
1) Review the case to ensure that the terms of this regulation have been met.
2) Consult the SJA, if needed.

Creditor Fails to Meet Requirements
a) If any of the terms of paragraph 4–3 have not been met by the creditor, return the complaint. Tell the writer that no action will be taken until those
terms are met. See figs 2–1 through 2–3 for formats (AR 600-15.) Use only the paragraphs in the formats that apply to the individual case.

b) Upon receipt of subsequent inquiries from USACFSC, Members of Congress, or any other source, inform the writer that:
i) The creditor has been told that his or her request lacked data or documentation.
ii) The commander regrets that he or she cannot process the complaint until the creditor supplies the necessary data.
iii) A reply previously has been made to the creditor. Enclose a copy of the reply.

c) If the creditor refuses or repeatedly fails to comply with any of these requirements, refer the complete case through channels to the Commander,
USACFSC, ATTN: DACF–IS–PA, ALEX VA 22331–0522. If it is believed the creditor’s debt processing privileges should be revoked, include a
recommendation stating the reasons.

d) If the Soldier was not given full disclosure information when the debt was incurred, refer him or her to the SJA office. The SJA will advise if the
Soldier has a right to file suit against the creditor. The Soldier may be entitled to twice the amount of the finance charge, for a minimum of $100 up
to a maximum of $1,000, plus court costs and lawyer fees. This does not apply to debts incurred before 30 June 1969.

Disputes of Debt or Questions of Legality
a) If in doubt as to the legality of the contract, consult the SJA. This action is to ensure that the contract terms do not violate Federal and State laws.
b) Accept as valid proof, claims based on court judgments, orders, or decrees.
c) If the debt or the amount of the debt is disputed or denied by the Soldier, reply directly to the creditor. Tell him or her that Army policy requires
that disputed debts be settled by civil courts. Do not, in the reply, try to judge or settle any disputed debts, or admit or deny the validity of the claim.

Creditor Meets All Requirements
a) Interview the Soldier.
i) Ensure that the Soldier is properly advised of his or her rights under the Privacy Act of 1974. DA Form 4817–R (Consent/Nonconsent to Disclose
Personal Information) will be completed. DA Form 4817–R will be reproduced locally on 81⁄2- by 11-inch paper. A copy for local reproduction is at
the back of this regulation.
ii) Notify the Soldier of the debt complaint.
iii) Explain that the Army requires that Soldiers pay their debts promptly. Failure to do so damages credit reputations and affects the Army’s public
image. Also, explain that the willful failure to resolve unpaid debts may result in administrative or punitive actions as described in chapter 3.
iv) Tell the Soldier of his or her legal rights and duties. If appropriate, advise the Soldier of his or her rights under article 31, UCMJ. Also, inform the
Soldier that counseling service is available under the Legal Assistance Program (AR 27–3).
v) Review all available facts including the Soldier’s defenses, rights, and counterclaims.
vi) Urge the Soldier to seek budget counseling and consumer protection advice, if proper. These services may be obtained from on-post credit
unions, Army Community Service Program Counselors (AR 608–1), or through financial management seminars or workshops.
vii)Help the Soldier in settling or in liquidating the debt.
viii) Have the Soldier sign a statement allowing or forbidding release of information to the claimant (DA Form 4817–R). Both AR 340–17 and AR 340–
21, paragraph 3–2 govern this.
ix) Ask the Soldier about his or her intentions. Give the Soldier the chance to furnish a voluntarily signed statement admitting or denying the
complaint or declining to do either.
b) Advise the claimant promptly that the Soldier has been told of the complaint.
c) Summarize the Soldier’s intentions if the Soldier allows release of the information.
d) If proper, advise the claimant that indebtedness disputes must be resolved in a civil court of competent jurisdiction.