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Military Families on the Move: Protect Your Credit

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For many military families, spring and summer can be a stressful and trying time of year because it often involves moving to a new duty station.

Many military families move almost every year, and there are a lot of considerations that can fall through the cracks when planning to pack up everything they own and move sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This can create a number of problems.

Among the biggest problems facing servicemembers on the move relates to credit. That’s because if they find themselves missing monthly credit card or other bills because of the move, they will likely face significant drops in credit scores and other financial problems. For instance, credit card lenders typically impose penalty interest rates on those who become delinquent in paying their credit card debt, and these are typically much higher than the normal ongoing interest rates they currently pay, which will add to their debt more quickly. The same is true of penalty fees that can spin out of control if not addressed quickly.

Of course, another potential problem military families may face is that their bills can be sent to collections agencies if they go long enough without paying them, because this means that they not only owe the debt, but have taken a significant hit to their credit rating and can likely expect harassing phone calls from the company that now controls the debt.

For these and other reasons, it’s important that military families on the move let the financial institutions with whom they do business know that they will be moving, and they must provide them with the new address. And moves can be chaotic, so families should be sure not to miss online bill payments either.

One of the largest isn’t just the stress of moving, it’s that there’s not always a guarantee that a spouse will be able to find a job in their new city or town, the report said. That can be quite problematic if a family that previously had two incomes has to revert to depending on one, because families sometimes spend as though they’ll be guaranteed those incomes forever, and thus rack up a considerable amount of debt.

“When you get orders, the spouse has to leave that job,” Tara Sanders, case work coordinator in the Norfolk, Virginia, office of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, told Army Times. “Even if you have a job with a nationwide company, you don’t always get a job at the new location.”

Image: MCAS Cherry Point, via Flickr

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