Subscribe to Our Newsletter
AG Bonta issues “know your rights” document for active duty military service members stationed in California
OAKLAND – During Veterans and Military Families Month, California Attorney General Rob Bonta today highlighted important consumer protections for active duty service members stationed in California. Additionally, Attorney General Bonta announced the publication of a new “know your rights” tips sheet that will be made available to military personnel and installations across the state. The tip sheet, which was developed in response to requests from military financial counselors during a roundtable discussion at Naval Base San Diego earlier this year, will raise awareness of the rights given to active duty service members under California law.
“We are proud here in California to serve as a host and home to active duty service members and their families,” said Attorney General Bonta. “State and federal law provides military families in California with critical protections, and my office is committed to ensuring these protections for those who dedicate their lives to serving our nation. It is my hope that together, in a joint effort with military leadership, we can advance legal rights and protections for our military community.”
Know Your Rights
California is proud to be home to a substantial military community. As an active duty service member stationed in California, you have important consumer protections under California law. If you believe your rights have been violated, ask the nearest military legal assistance office for help. For contact information, ask your unit or use the U.S. Armed Forces Legal Services Locator.
It is against the law for businesses and government agencies to discriminate against you, threaten your civilian job, or charge you more because of your military status. It’s also illegal for any business to deny you service because you are wearing your military uniform. The Attorney General’s Office works with federal, state, and local partners to protect the rights of service members in California. If your rights have been violated you can file a report with the Attorney General’s Office.
Buying or Leasing a Car or Motorcycle
A vehicle is one of the most expensive purchases you will make. Take a tactical pause, bring a battle buddy, and do your research – there is no automatic right to return a vehicle if you later change your mind.
Residents of Another State or Territory
If you are a resident of another state and stationed in California on active duty:
Debt on Mortgages and Auto Loans
While you’re on active duty, if you fall behind on your mortgage or auto loan, the lender cannot foreclose or repossess unless it gets a court order. The court can also defer payments and provide other relief.
If you are at risk of falling behind on a mortgage or other loan, remember that you have options. Talk with your command financial counselor to get advice and assistance, which may include access to emergency loans from Army Emergency Relief, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Air Force Aid Society, or Coast Guard Mutual Assistance. If you are sued, or threatened with foreclosure or repossession, contact the nearest military legal assistance office immediately.
For auto loans or leases, California and federal law allows you to:
If you get behind on your car payments, reach out to your command financial counselor for assistance.
Unethical debt collectors often try to illegally threaten service members into making payments. In California, it’s illegal for a creditor or other debt collector to:
For assistance asserting your rights, go to the nearest military legal assistance office and file a report with the Attorney General’s Office.
If you need to store your vehicle or belongings, check with your unit or installation – they may offer free or low-cost storage options. If you have stored your belongings with a private business and you are at risk of falling behind on your payments, get help and advice from your command financial counselor.
Under the law, storage companies cannot sell your items without a court order. Some storage companies try to get you to give up, or “waive,” this right when you sign your storage contract. Even if you waived those rights, you may still have rights under California law. If a storage company threatens to sell your property, contact the nearest military legal assistance office for help.
If you get sued, don’t ignore it! Contact the nearest military legal assistance office for help right away.
Under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and California law, you may ask a court to:
You can find a downloadable PDF of today’s consumer alert here.