Banks, credit unions offer help to furloughed federal workers

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — As the government shutdown persists, banks and credit unions are offering assistance to the 800,000 federal employees who are not receiving paychecks. 

Lisa Dandeneau, the chief operating officer at Navigant Credit Union, said the shutdown prompted Navigant to offer 90-day, interest-free loans to its members who are furloughed.  

“We’ve had some calls from members,” Dandeneau said. “They’re struggling.”

For those members, Navigant is also forgiving late payment fees on existing loans. 

“We have some options as to how we can help them bridge that gap for a little while,” Dandeneau said. “We try to solve problems, so we’re here to help.”

Other financial institutions are also offering assistance to federal employees who’ve been impacted by the shutdown. A spokesperson for Citizens Bank told Call 12 for Action the bank is “providing a variety of services such as waiving late fees, rebating service charges, providing easy access to cds without penalty, loan payment assistance, and a simplified personal loan application.” 

Citizens Bank launched a dedicated government shutdown line: 866-991-0404. 

BankRI said it is also poised to help. 

“To this point, BankRI has not been made aware of any customers potentially being affected by the shutdown or begun to offer any formal assistance program,” spokesperson Michael Cerio told Call 12 for Action. “However, the circumstances facing tens of thousands of workers is top-of-mind and has been discussed internally.”

“If a customer situation presents itself, there is no question BankRI will work with them with an understanding of what’s happening and on an individualized basis,” Cerio added. 

Wells Fargo has a website dedicated to government shutdown assistance, and Bank of America reminded customers of its Client Assistance Program. 

Late last week, the FDIC sent a letter to financial institutions encouraging them to “work with borrowers” affected by the shutdown. 

In a letter to the CEOs of Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, US Bancorp, and Wells Fargo, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, requested information about the financial institutions’ plans to assist customers during the shutdown. 

“I’m glad that you are taking some steps to help your customers but these announcements do not provide full details about the services that are actually available to affected workers and businesses,” Warren wrote.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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