SCRA Repossession Protection Rights: A Quick Guide

Can personal property, like a vehicle, be repossessed if you’re an active-duty service member? People who render military service are granted plenty of benefits, including SCRA protections. In this article, we’ll explore what the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) has to say about repossession proceedings.

When Can a Vehicle Get Repossessed?

Various scenarios could prompt a vehicle to be repossessed. The most common scenario is when the debtor fails to pay three consecutive months of the car loan. The outcome ultimately depends on the debtor’s car loan agreement with the bank. In some cases, missing two months would already warrant the repossession to take place.

The bank doesn’t give the debtor a heads-up when the repossession occurs, so people with car loans should be vigilant about making payments. However, there are cases where the debtor has entered active duty military service and has found it challenging to make payments.

Special Protections for Active Duty Servicemembers

The debtor may be granted certain legal protections if they obtained the vehicle or property before entering military service. A bank must obtain a court order before the repossession can proceed. Otherwise, it is illegal to repossess personal property from active-duty service members.

However, if the vehicle loan or the agreement was signed after service members entered military service, the repossession will occur like any other case. Moreover, the service member must have signed the loan agreement and paid at least the deposit or first installment payment before they entered military service (50 U.S. Code § 3952).

Not only that, the SCRA permits active duty members to request a stay of proceedings. What does this mean? Filing for a court order can be delayed until the defendant can be present in court – or provide a sound defense. Depending on the case in question, the court can stay the proceedings for a set period.

The court can also order payment changes. By bringing the case before the court, the judge gains the ability to alter payments. A judge could reduce the servicemember’s loan obligations or require them to repay all payments. The judge has discretion in this instance.

On the other hand, a creditor doesn’t need a court order to repossess if the service member signed a waiver certifying that they waive their SCRA rights.

Who is Covered by SCRA Protections on Repossession?

protections provided by the SCRA

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act covers the following people:

  • Active duty service member (Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force or Coast Guard)
  • Reserve members who are on active duty
  • Active service commissioned officers of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • National Guard who received a specific type of activation orders
  • Dependents of active duty military personnel may include their spouse, children, and other dependents.

Dates are crucial when it comes to SCRA protections. These protections apply when the service member is on active duty military service. This begins with the date they receive the order to report for active duty. For reservists, this applies on the day they receive the order to report for military service. For people rendering selective service, this applies once they receive the order of induction.

Protections granted by the SCRA are lifted once they are discharged from active duty, leave military service, or upon death. That’s why the covered service members and the creditor should carefully check the dates.

What To Do if Your Property Gets Repossessed?

If a creditor repossesses or even attempts to repossess a service member’s personal property while the SCRA protects that person, the consequences can be severe. The creditor can be subject to criminal penalties, while the service member may be entitled to remedies.

For example, if that creditor obtains a judgment against a service member violating the SCRA, the service member may be entitled to have that judgment set aside. The service member may also sue the creditor privately for damages and attorneys’ fees.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is authorized to pursue creditors who violate the SCRA. Service members who are getting their property repossessed can request that the DOJ investigate the matter on their behalf.

For this process to take place, the service member should first seek assistance from their Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office. Suppose the service member believes their SCRA rights have been violated or has questions about SCRA coverage. In that case, they can contact their local AFLAP via U.S. Armed Forces Legal Assistance.

Alternatively, an active-duty military member can seek counsel from a lawyer well-versed in the SCRA. This expert can provide the best advice to strengthen the member’s case.


Fortunately, the SCRA grants active duty service members certain protections from property repossession. As long as the service member doesn’t sign a waiver, they can activate their SCRA rights and even gain something from this unfortunate situation.

Creditors should be vigilant about following the law. Determining if a person is on active duty is vital in ensuring the SCRA protects them. You can seek assistance from the SCRACVS to make this process easier and avoid possible headaches in the future.


What does SCRA mean in cases?

SCRA stands for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This federal law grants active-duty service members several legal and financial protections so they can focus on their jobs.

How does the SCRA work?

The SCRA grants active-duty military personnel financial and legal protections so they can focus on their jobs. These protections apply once a person enters active-duty military service.

How do I claim SCRA? 

Service members who want to activate SCRA protections should provide written notice and present evidence they’re on active duty.

Does SCRA apply to vehicle loans?

Yes, the SCRA applies to vehicle loans as long as they are signed before entering active duty service.

How long does SCRA protect service members from foreclosure?

The SCRA (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act) protects service members from foreclosure for up to 12 months after their active duty ends. However, if the service member’s ability to pay the mortgage is not materially affected by military service, the lender can still proceed with foreclosure.

Can a lender ever repossess the vehicle of an active duty servicemember?

The SCRA generally prevents lenders from repossessing the vehicle of an active duty service member without a court order, unless the service member agrees to the repossession or the court allows it.

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