8th Army slashes travel card delinquency
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Eighth Army officials are reporting a massive reduction in the number of delinquent government travel card accounts, with delinquency rates dropping from 14 percent in January 2003 to 4.4 percent this month.
Officials credit an aggressive campaign with several new initiatives, including radio ads that warned 8th Army’s delinquency rates were among the highest in the Department of the Army.
Among the other initiatives are canceling travel cards for individuals embarking on permanent change of station orders; aggressive past-due notifications and 100 percent audits of all travel card transactions, officials said.
“Proper use of the government travel card is a soldier, civilian and leadership responsibility. My focus and expectation is zero delinquent credit cards,” Col. Mike Waclawski, the 8th Army’s assistant chief of staff, said in a military news release.
Zero delinquencies could be hard to achieve, but the 8th Army is now closing in on the Department of Army’s 3 percent standard. The numbers of late and unpaid accounts have dropped dramatically in a relatively short period of time.
A year ago, the rate topped 14 percent; by August, it had been halved to 6.8 percent. Now, it stands at just more than 4 percent of the 3,100 travel cards issued by the command.
A travel card account is considered delinquent after 60 days, but the holder’s command is notified when a payment is 30 days past due, officials said. No interest is charged, but late fees are assigned once a bill has gone unpaid for 72 days. After 120 days, a soldier’s wages can be garnished.
Authorized card holders on temporary-duty deployments can have their commands notify Bank of America about their duty status, effectively putting a hold on any payments or late fees until the card holder’s return.
While touting the improvements on delinquency rates, officials are warning card holders about a rash of recent scams. For instance, individuals have sent fraudulent e-mails claiming to be from a credit card company asking card holders to send personal information and account numbers as part of a “technical security update.”
Another reported scam involves card holders receiving phone calls from unknown people claiming to be government charge program employees checking suspicious charges.
Officials warn never to give out personal or account information to anyone other than local program coordinators or known travel card employees.