Congress Strengthens SCRA Provision on Terminating Cell Phone Contract upon Mobilization or Deployment
By Captain Samuel F. Wright, JAGC, USN (Ret.)
4.2—Right To Terminate a Lease or Contract upon Mobilization
On October 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 (VBA-2010), Public Law 111-275. This important new law makes several welcome amendments to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
Section 302 of VBA-2010 amends section 305A of the SCRA and improves the law’s provision permitting a service member to terminate a cell phone contract upon mobilization or deployment. Under the amended provision, the service member can now terminate the contract if military orders require the member to relocate for more than 90 days to an area not supported by the cell phone contract. The service provider must reserve the telephone number for up to three years, in case the service member resubscribes to cell phone service within 90 days after the end of the relocation. The amended provision applies to cell phone family plans as well as individual contracts.
The SCRA permits the mobilized service member to terminate a lease on premises (apartment, house, office, etc.) and to terminate a vehicle lease or a cell phone contract. These are important rights, but there are many other contracts or leases that the member may need to terminate upon being called to the colors. For example, I have heard from a Navy Reserve medical corps officer who volunteered to go back on active duty for several years and therefore closed down his private medical practice. He had leased a very expensive medical device for his practice, and the lease had some three years left to go when he closed down his practice. His inability, under current law, to terminate the lease caused him great financial hardship.