A March 2023 change to the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act makes it easier for military members and their dependents to cancel home security contracts when they move on permanent change of station (PCS) orders or deploy.
The SCRA is a U.S. federal law that provides a variety of protections to service members and their dependents. It is designed to reduce unnecessary financial and legal burdens that could exist due to military service. It gets changed from time to time, and additional protections are added.
SCRA and Home Security Services
The Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022 made several changes to the SCRA. These include the expansion of contract cancellation provisions to gym memberships, fitness programs, and home security services. This will help prevent military families from having to pay out a home security service contract when they move.
In the past, many home security systems came with monitoring contracts that didn't have a way to cancel if a service member deployed or PCSed.
Before my husband's first deployment, we had an alarm system installed in our house. It was sold to us through one of the popular alarm system companies. The system was "discounted" but came with a service contract. When my husband received PCS orders several years later, the company somehow claimed that we were still under contract. (We weren't.) It took months to get it to actually stop billing us for the monitoring service on a home we didn't live in. Under this new law, it should be easier.
Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible to use this new protection, the service member must have orders to deploy for more than 90 days or execute a PCS move. The orders must have been issued after the contract was written and signed.
This applies to full-time National Guard and reserve members, and those activated under Title 10. The protection applies to contracts with a military spouse or other dependent who accompanies the service member on the PCS move. There are also protections if the service member is injured or killed.
Note that there is a clause that says that the order must be "to a location that does not support the contract." Will some providers try to make this difficult? I can't say, but it will be interesting to find out.
How to Cancel Your Contract
In order to cancel a contract with a home security provider, you must provide written notification of your intent to cancel. It can be done physically, like a letter, or electronically. You must attach a copy of the orders and state the date you want the service terminated. You might have to do some digging to find the right snail mail or email address for sending the termination.
The service provider cannot charge you an early termination fee, but you are responsible for the bill up to the date of termination.
This small change will make life easier and less expensive for the many military families who PCS each year and the service members who deploy and no longer need home security services. Added to the other protections of SCRA, this gets even closer to leveling the playing field for our military families who incur extra costs with every deployment and PCS move.
-- Amanda Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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