FRA NewsBytes - 08-22-2014

In this issue:
DFAS Relaxes Password Restrictions
CFPB Shuts Down Service Member Fee Scam
TRICARE Set to Cover Laboratory-Developed Tests
Communicate with Your Elected Officials


DFAS Relaxes Password Restrictions
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) recently decided to undo some of the arduously challenging password requirements that were implemented last year:

New requirements Old requirements
Must be 9 to 30 characters in length Must be 15 to 30 characters in length
Contain at least one UPPERCASE letter Contain at least two UPPERCASE letters
Contain at least one lowercase letter Contain at least two lowercase letters
Contain at least one number (0-9) Contain at least two numbers (0-9)
Contain at least one special character Contain at least two special characters
Passwords will expire every 150 days Passwords will expire every 60 days

DFAS officials listened to customer feedback regarding MyPay passwords and made these changes, while still ensuring the system meets the Department of Defense (DoD) security policies.


CFPB Shuts Down Service Member Fee Scam
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently put an end to a service member fee scam run by USA Discounters, Ltd., a company that operates a chain of retail stores near military bases and offers financing for purchases. USA Discounters tricked thousands of service members into paying fees for legal protections the service members already had and for certain services the company failed to provide. The CFPB has obtained more than $350,000 in refunds for service members harmed by this scam.

USA Discounters, Ltd. retail stores sell furniture, electronics, bedding, and appliances. Most of the company’s stores are located within a few miles of military bases, and use standardized contracts tailored for active duty service members. These contracts require service members to pay a $5 fee to be represented in any lawsuits filed under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) that provides certain legal protections to active duty service members. In fact, these fees helped USA Discounters to sue service members.

The CFPB’s consent order requires USA Discounters, Ltd. to:

  • No longer market these contracts and stop charging the fee;
  • Make full restitution to all eligible consumers for the $5 fee, plus interest; and
  • Pay a $50,000 penalty to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.

The full text of the CFPB’s Consent Order is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201408_cfpb_consent-order_usa-discounters.pdf


TRICARE Set to Cover Laboratory-Developed Tests
On August 15, 2014, TRICARE announced that it will cover certain laboratory-developed tests under the Defense Health Agency Evaluation of Non-United States Food and Drug Administration Approved Laboratory-Developed Tests Demonstration Project beginning in September 2014. This also allows TRICARE to cover approved laboratory-developed tests retroactively if the coverage guidelines for the specific test are met.

This means that beneficiaries can now file a claim with their regional contractors to receive payment if the beneficiary has paid for a laboratory-developed test since Jan. 1, 2013, and it is now included in the demonstration. Many of the covered tests are related to links between certain genes and specific health conditions, such as breast and lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, various syndromes and other health concerns.

You can visit the covered services section of the TRICARE website (http://www.tricare.mil/ldt) to see the full list of which tests are covered, and which are eligible for retroactive reimbursement. Most tests must be preauthorized by the regional contractor before they can be covered and must be offered by an authorized provider.

TRICARE will maintain and publish a list of approved tests, and will continually update it as new tests are reviewed and approved for coverage.


Communicate with Your Elected Officials
In order to help shipmates communicate with elected officials in support of FRA-led initiatives, the Association publishes a guidebook, “Communicate with your Elected Officials,” which contains suggestions for contacting your lawmakers by phone, mail, fax or e-mail. It also includes guidelines for composing, addressing and sending correspondence.

Printed with the generous support of GEICO, the handbook is an adjunct to FRA’s online Action Center (action.fra.org/action-center) and is part of FRA’s ongoing campaign to encourage citizens to be active participants in the legislative process.

To receive your free copy of “Communicate with your Elected Officials,” contact FRA at 1-800-FRA-1924 (ext. 108) or e-mail your request (and mailing address) to Maria at Maria@fra.org. Written requests can be sent to Fleet Reserve Association, Attn: Communicate, 125 N West Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-2754.