Credit unions step up during shutdown

Offer Unique Products to Assist Members Affected by Shutdown

WASHINGTON DC (October 2, 2013) — Credit unions are stepping up during the partial government shutdown, offering those affected members a variety of services including special rates, salary equivalent loans, skip-a-payment programs, financial counseling and more to ensure members survive any furloughs with their finances intact. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has gathered many examples of how credit unions from across the country are helping members in need.
“Credit unions are open for business during this shutdown, and they are stepping up to help those who are affected,” said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of CUNA. “Credit unions are offering a variety of special services to members, so that no one should have to have to choose between paying the rent and buying groceries simply because of Washington’s inability to function.”

Special Shutdown Services Often Include:

  • Special/Emergency Loans: Extra low rates for affected members including temporary zero interest loans and payment deferral
  • Payroll replacement/advance assistance: Temporary loans that replace a furloughed employee’s salary
  • Skip-a-Payment programs: Skip a regular consumer loan payment at no charge
  • Penalty-free share certificate withdrawal: Take money from a share certificate to help now without the associated fee
  • Financial counseling/loan workouts: Meet with a loan officer to determine if a loan workout program can be created to help ease financial hardship

Many credit unions with federal employees already had in place special programs from past shutdown threats and were ready from Day One of the shutdown.

“Andrews Federal stands ready to provide our members with financial assistance and options to help curb the adverse effects that the government shutdown may cause,” said Jim Hayes, president/CEO, Andrews FCU, Suitland, Md.

It will offer a Bridge Loan up to $5,000 at a 0% annual percentage rate (APR) for 90 days. After 90 days, the standard APR will apply. It also will have flexible terms up to a year and offer payment options to manage the loss of income.

The $900 million asset credit union serves more than 100,000 members in the District of Columbia, on bases in Maryland and New Jersey, and military installations in central Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.  It also serves select employee groups in D.C., Maryland, and New Jersey.

Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif., sent an e-mail to members Tuesday letting them know the $2.2 billion asset credit union is there to support them. It is placing information on its website.

“RCU’s No. 1 priority is assisting our members, especially during times of uncertainty like the current government shutdown,” said Robin McKenzie, senior vice president at RCU.  “We encourage members employed by the federal government or agencies impacted by the shutdown to contact us for assistance.”

Hanscom FCU at Hanscomb AFB, Mass., which serves federal employees in Massachusetts, said its members will have access to a 0% APR interest line of credit–called a Life Line Loan–for 60 days, equal to one month’s net payroll up to $5,000.  The interest-free loan is attached to the member’s checking account to provide additional funds to cover checks, ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases.

The $1 billion asset credit union also will waive penalties for premature withdrawals on term share certificates and provide free, confidential financial counseling and education through its BALANCE Financial Fitness.  Members can schedule a one-on-one phone session with a certified financial counselor for help with budgeting, managing credit and assessing their finances.

“We have supported our members affected by furloughs over the summer, and we continue to be here for members,” said Paul Marotta, Hanscom FCU’s board chairman.  “We are true to our roots and the credit union motto, ‘People Helping People.'”

At Jacksonville, Ark.-based Arkansas FCU, “we’ve been through this before, so we’re prepared to do anything and everything we can to make sure the men and women who serve our country will be well taken care of” in a shutdown, said Larry Biernacki, president/CEO. He urged members to call the credit union if the shutdown threatens their well-being.

“Thousands of our members rely on a government paycheck to make their automatic loan payments, credit card payments and more each month,” Biernacki said. “We want those members to know we are willing to work out an arrangement on an individual basis if a government shutdown interrupts their normal financial well-being.”

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