Service members, consider yourselves warned

This company and others like it target young, inexperienced service members and then victimize them, no matter where they may be. USA Discounters – unfortunately headquartered here in Virginia – along with Freedom Furniture and Electronics and Military Credit Services offer high-priced credit to military clientele. Together with USA Discounters, the three companies have filed more than 35,000 suits since 2006.

They offer automatic approval, easy credit for young military members who may not have had time to establish credit on their own. And that’s when it gets disgusting.

Should customers fall behind, the company transforms into an efficient collection operation. And this part of its business takes place not where customers bought their appliances, but in two local courthouses just a short drive from the company’s Virginia Beach headquarters.

From there, USA Discounters files lawsuits against service members based anywhere in the world, no matter how much inconvenience or expense they would incur to attend a Virginia court date. Since 2006, the company has filed more than 13,470 suits and almost always wins, records show.

[…]

The federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, was designed to give active-duty members of the armed forces every opportunity to defend themselves against lawsuits. But the law has a loophole; it doesn’t address where plaintiffs can sue. That’s allowed USA Discounters to sue out-of-state borrowers in Virginia, where companies can file suit as long as some aspect of the business was transacted in the state.

The company routinely argues that it meets that requirement through contract clauses that state any lawsuit will take place in Virginia. Judges have agreed.

[…]

Once a judge awards USA Discounters a judgment, the company can begin the process of garnishing the service member’s pay. USA Discounters seizes the pay of more active-duty military than any company in the country, according to Department of Defense payroll data obtained by ProPublica.

Look, I’m the first one to say that you are responsible for making payments on time, and that if you borrow from someone, you are responsible for paying them back. I don’t like deadbeats, and I abhor excuses. If you can’t pay for what you borrow – be it a house, a car or appliances – you shouldn’t borrow that money in the first place.

But at the same time, I also know that young Soldiers, who likely have a job for the first time where they’re getting regular pay, tend to be ignorant of budgeting facts and irresponsible with their money. It’s a fact. Yes, it’s a leadership failure to leave those youngsters out there to make bad decisions without giving them the information they need to help ensure they don’t make stupid decisions, don’t deal with predatory lenders and don’t understand how to budget properly. But this company specifically targets young soldiers, tempts them with easy credit and quick lending, and then swoops down to destroy their financial lives.

This company is a predator. Period.

Do not deal with them.

You have been warned.

 

3 responses

  1. I don’t know why any service members use anyone like that.

    1. If you can’t pay cash, or put it on a card that you can pay off in 2-3 months (working on establishing a good credit rating), you don’t need it that badly. Especially if you are in the first few years of your military career.

    2. Any legit retailer will have FAR better terms for credit.

    3. As far as I know, they go over this stuff at peoples’ first duty station. Well, the USAF does, or did. If they don’t they need to.

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  2. Not really all that new. When I was in the Army in the 60’s, California credit companies used to offer easy credit to ANYONE in the military–and this was in the days when an E-1 or E-2 was paid well LESS than $100/month. They’d try to sell them junk cars, furniture, cheaply made (but expensive and black and white) TVs, encyclopedias, “lifetime” of baby pictures with “albums” etc. If someone fell behind as much as a week, they’d use the soldier’s CO as their collection agency and if that didn’t work, they’d sic a collection agency on you and harass you forever. My first wife fell prey to a door-to-door salesman while pregnant with our son and signed up for that “baby picture deal.” She did this without my knowledge or consent and while I was away for a week on TDY. When I found out about it, I recognized it for the scam it was and called them and told them I was cancelling the “contract.” They harassed me for 4 months until I’d done some research and wrote them a letter telling them WHY I didn’t intend to EVER pay for this stuff. (1) California, at that time, had a law in place that said that a man is NOT responsible for his unemployed wife contracting for anything that’s not related to food, shelter, utilities or household upkeep. (2) The City of Seaside, California, where we lived, had an ordinance prohibiting door-to-door solicitations without a City issued permit. I never heard from them again.

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