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JPMorgan Chase Works Overtime to Make Up for Abuse of Military Families in Foreclosure

JPMorgan Chase building (photo: DragonFlyEye via Flickr)

I mentioned JPMorgan Chase earlier today, in conjunction with Bernie Madoff’s reasoning that the banks “had to know” about his Ponzi scheme. JPM also plans to cut their trading platforms around the world, perhaps in response to Dodd-Frank. But I want to point out that JPM is working hard to clean up another of their problems, this time related to their abuse of military families.

A Congressional hearing last week detailed how JPM illegally foreclosed on service members while they served on active duty overseas, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. They also charged mortgage interest rates above the cap for active-duty military personnel.

The big bank went out of their way to fix the problem yesterday, knowing that abusing service members could get you in big trouble in this country, and lead to further scrutiny of their abusive practices. Calling these violations a “painful aberration” on a track record of honoring military families, JPM CEO Jamie Dimon announced:

• New pricing. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, servicers are required to cap mortgage interest rates for active duty personnel at 6%. JPM will lower that cap to 4%.

• Military modification program. JPM will go beyond HAMP requirements for all personnel who served on active duty going back to 9/11. If the borrower has a second lien with them, they will reduce the interest rate on it to 1%.

• No foreclosures. JPM will not foreclose on any active duty military personnel overseas. Anyone who was wrongly foreclosed upon previously will not only get their home back, but JPM will forgive all remaining home debt. They promise to do that in the future with any other wrongful foreclosure of a military family.

• Donations. JPM will donate 1,000 homes to military and veterans, through a non-profit partner, over the next five years.

• Jobs. They will commit to hiring 100,000 military and veterans over the next ten years. They will also offer a Technology Education certificate for veterans to take free to get technology training for future careers.

• Advisory Council. They’ll form an Advisory Council to determine other ways to help military families. They’re also opening a bunch of Homeownership Centers near military bases to assist families.

Needless to say, this is a PR gambit to the nth degree. But look how incredibly scared JPM is that anyone will look past the abuse of military families. They are going out of their way to burnish and repair their public image on this one, and the goal is to whitewash the fact that they were merely engaging in standard servicer practices of abusing homeowners and illegally foreclosing.

The question I have is simple: Why is it OK to abuse the vast majority of borrowers in the United States, but not military families? Why draw the line there? The answer is equally simple: it’s good politics, and they don’t want Congress breathing down their necks.

I hope that people can see through this admission of wrongdoing and guilt, and know that it’s not confined to the military sphere.

CommunityThe Bullpen

JPMorgan Chase Works Overtime to Make Up for Abuse of Military Families in Foreclosure

I mentioned JPMorgan Chase earlier today, in conjunction with Bernie Madoff’s reasoning that the banks “had to know” about his Ponzi scheme. JPM also plans to cut their trading platforms around the world, perhaps in response to Dodd-Frank. But I want to point out that JPM is working hard to clean up another of their problems, this time related to their abuse of military families.

A Congressional hearing last week detailed how JPM illegally foreclosed on service members while they served on active duty overseas, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. They also charged mortgage interest rates above the cap for active-duty military personnel.

The big bank went out of their way to fix the problem yesterday, knowing that abusing service members could get you in big trouble in this country, and lead to further scrutiny of their abusive practices. Calling these violations a “painful aberration” on a track record of honoring military families, JPM CEO Jamie Dimon announced:

• New pricing. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, servicers are required to cap mortgage interest rates for active duty personnel at 6%. JPM will lower that cap to 4%.

• Military modification program. JPM will go beyond HAMP requirements for all personnel who served on active duty going back to 9/11. If the borrower has a second lien with them, they will reduce the interest rate on it to 1%.

• No foreclosures. JPM will not foreclose on any active duty military personnel overseas. Anyone who was wrongly foreclosed upon previously will not only get their home back, but JPM will forgive all remaining home debt. They promise to do that in the future with any other wrongful foreclosure of a military family.

• Donations. JPM will donate 1,000 homes to military and veterans, through a non-profit partner, over the next five years.

• Jobs. They will commit to hiring 100,000 military and veterans over the next ten years. They will also offer a Technology Education certificate for veterans to take free to get technology training for future careers.

• Advisory Council. They’ll form an Advisory Council to determine other ways to help military families. They’re also opening a bunch of Homeownership Centers near military bases to assist families.

Needless to say, this is a PR gambit to the nth degree. But look how incredibly scared JPM is that anyone will look past the abuse of military families. They are going out of their way to burnish and repair their public image on this one, and the goal is to whitewash the fact that they were merely engaging in standard servicer practices of abusing homeowners and illegally foreclosing.

The question I have is simple: Why is it OK to abuse the vast majority of borrowers in the United States, but not military families? Why draw the line there? The answer is equally simple: it’s good politics, and they don’t want Congress breathing down their necks.

I hope that people can see through this admission of wrongdoing and guilt, and know that it’s not confined to the military sphere.

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David Dayen

David Dayen