Cell Phone Contracts and Military Deployments
April 13, 2016
Military servicemen and women and their families face many decisions while preparing for and returning from a deployment. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) aims to protect these families from potential financial and legal hardships during this time.
Among other protections, the SCRA caps the interest rates on loans, prevents eviction for service members while preparing for deployment, offers certain insurance protections and allows for the termination or suspension of installment contracts during deployment or when they receive permanent change of station (PCS) orders. Cell phone contracts are one particular type of installment contract covered by the SCRA.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate active duty military families, including reservists, about the options they have regarding cell phone contracts when receiving new military orders.
“These brave men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us deserve additional protections provided under the SCRA,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is important that they know the specifics of these protections, including the ability to cancel or suspend cell phone contracts, if they have received new military orders. It also prohibits cell phone service providers from imposing an early termination fee or reactivation fee or requiring a contract extension.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following list of requirements that must be met in order to qualify for this specific protection:
- The cell phone contract must have been entered into before deployment or PCS orders are issued.
- Deployment or PCS orders must be for outside the continental United States for 90 days or more.
- For PCS orders within the United States, the change of duty must materially affect the ability to use the service or the ability to satisfy the terms of the contract, such as provider service is not available in the relocation.
- The cell phone service provider must be contacted before the orders take affect and be provided with a copy of the military orders.
Attorney General Rutledge recommends documenting all interactions with the provider in case there are any questions and getting a copy of the cancellation or suspension of service in writing.
If the provider suspends, instead of cancelling the contract, the service member may be required to honor the terms of the contract when returning stateside.
Attorney General Rutledge is dedicated to serving and protecting military members through the first-ever Military and Veterans Initiative at the Attorney General’s office. This initiative assists active duty military, reservists, veterans and their families with consumer related issues, veterans courts, Hiring Heroes program and other collaborative efforts.
Arkansas military service members, veterans and families should file consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s office on ArkansasAG.gov or by calling (800) 482-8982.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.