J.P. Morgan Chase bank illegally evicts active-duty service members

A statement by March Forward!

Last October, the massive J.P. Morgan Chase bank reported a $4.4 billion quarterly profit, a 23 percent increase over the previous year. Not coincidentally, the bank recently admitted that it had illegally foreclosed on 18 active-duty service members and overcharged 4,500. At a hearing held by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, J.P. Morgan Chase executive Stephanie Mudick stated, “We failed to comply with aspects of the law.”

Although assurances were given that the affected GIs would be repaid, the bank has so far only given out $2.4 million. Half of the service members have received less than $70, plus interest, while undergoing extreme hardship. Julia Rowles, whose husband is a Marine, said at the hearing: “We have two children. One of them was born premature. Yet at the same time, I'm dealing with Chase, getting their phone calls, getting their harassment.”

Specifically, J.P. Morgan Chase violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which limits interest rates and foreclosures for members of the armed forces. Rowles went on to tell the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs that “ignorance for the SCRA benefits to service members is ridiculous.” Considering their criminal disregard for working and poor people, it is likely that J.P. Morgan Chase is not the only bank to have violated the SCRA.

Beyond the suffering endured by thousands of military families, this injustice reveals several important lessons. Most directly, it shows that many of the so-called benefits of enlistment that recruiters often reference are a sham. There are no real penalties for violating the SCRA, and bank executives are almost certain to face no consequences for their illegal actions. Meanwhile, service members and their families suffer because they were denied the protections they were promised.

Mudick said at the hearing: “We deeply regret that service members have been overcharged and in some cases faced foreclosure because of these errors. We are acting to … prevent such mistakes going forward. Chase is determined to get this right.” Basically, the bank said it is sorry and promised not to break the law again!

Mudick has every reason to think that the members of Congress would accept this; they have all been bought and paid for by corporate and financial giants like J.P. Morgan Chase. Congress itself exists simply to serve these powerful forces.

This episode also highlights the priorities of the U.S. government. When huge banks and corporations faced bankruptcy, the government was ready to step in with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. In 2008, J.P. Morgan Chase received $25 billion as part of the bailouts. However, when service members and other working-class people are thrown out of their homes, the government decides that it is best to not interfere with the workings of the great free market.

Most importantly, these illegal evictions reveal the real enemy. We are constantly told that we have been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our freedom. However, it is millionaires and billionaires like the executives at J.P. Morgan Chase that pose the real threat to our well-being. The impoverished Afghans and Iraqis suffering under the occupations do not own any banks; in fact, they face many of the same problems as we do. Our enemy is at home!


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