Thursday, January 3, 2019

Credit unions doing what they do best during the shutdown.

WASHINGTON–As the partial federal government shutdown stretches on, more credit union have announced offers of assistance.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which handles human resources for the government's civilian workforce, has advised thousands of employees who won't be paid during the government shutdown to reach out to creditors in order to work out alternative payment schedules. OPM has even released sample letters it suggests federal workers affected by the shutdown use to ask for help from mortgage lenders and landlords.
The latest to offer help to members missing paychecks due to the shutdown include:
  • AmeriCU Credit Union in Rome, N.Y., which is offering interest-free furlough loans, fee refunds, and penalty-free certificate withdrawals. "We want to help alleviate the financial stress that a shutdown like this could cause our members,” Ron Belle, chief experience officer for AmeriCU, told local media. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re here for our members with the right assistance and services when and where they need it.”
  • Mid Oregon Credit Union in Bend, Ore., which reported it has several hundred members who are employees of the Deschutes National Forest, Ochoco National Forest, the Fremont-Winema National Forest, BLM and US Fish and Wildlife Service. Mid Oregon is offering short-term loans, “skip-a-pays,” as well as a willingness to work with members on mortgage and auto loan payments.
  • Vermont State Employees Credit Union is offering a Member Emergency Loan (MEL), with a low rate on amounts  up to $1,500. “It’s a frightening prospect to suddenly lose income at any time of the year, but winter in Vermont is an especially difficult time to find yourself suddenly without funds,” Valerie Beaudin, head of Consumer Residential Lending, told local media.  Members may be eligible for the MEL if they have been in good standing with the credit union for at least six months and have proof of federal employment/furlough status. Loan applications can be completed online at www.vsecu.com or at any of VSECU’s nine branch locations.
  • In Michigan, Traverse Catholic Federal Credit Union has partnered with the local Bayside Market to help members of the Coast Guard and their families with free groceries. An account into which people can make donations to cover the costs of the groceries has been set up at the credit union.
    • In Riverdale, Utah,America First Credit Union is providing a special Furlough Assistance Loan. The personal loan of up to $4,000 will be made available to federal employees who have been furloughed due to the recent government shutdown. Additionally, America First, which has more than 988,000 members, is also offering members no-cost counseling services, loan extensions and numerous free and low-cost benefits. To be eligible for the Furlough Assistance Loan, individuals must be America First Credit Union members and have missed a paycheck due to the shutdown, the CU said. The Furlough Assistance Loan will be available one-time only and offers terms up to seven months, with one-month interest free. The loan has a zero percent interest rate for the first 30 days and then a 4.99% interest rate that begins to accrue on day 31.
Other Offers of Help
  • Radcliff, Ky.-based Fort Knox FCU, which is offering affected members a personal loan with no payments due for the first 90 days, or the option to withdraw up to $10,000 of certificate deposits early without penalty by visiting their local branch. FKFCU is also offering the opportunity to extend the payment due date on their current loans by 30, 60 or 90 days, depending on need as determined by the credit union, or applying for a new low-rate VISA credit card or instant cash line of credit to ease financial stress during the shutdown.
  • Keesler FCU in Biloxi, FCU., which is offering a payday advance for members who have federal payroll direct deposit established with the credit union. 
  • In Maine, Northeast Credit Union has announced the availability of several special programs to assist federal workers, including deferments for up to three months on NECU consumer loans, a special low-rate on a 12-month Signature Loan with deferred payments, and continuation of direct deposit pay at the member’s request.
  • In Chantilly, Va., Justice Federal Credit Union is offering special assistance in the form of an unsecured, low interest rate loan and deferred payments to members of the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security and other members furloughed as a result of a shutdown. Members with a minimum of six months of membership with Justice Federal may apply for a Special Assistance Loan up to member’s net pay, not to exceed $3,000 at an annual low rate of 2.94% for 24 months. The actual loan amount is based on the member’s net pay deposit, with direct deposit required. Members may opt to defer their first loan payment for up to 90 days. In addition, existing members in good standing with a Justice Federal consumer loan, or credit card may request to defer payments, and request assistance with a Justice Federal First Mortgage Loan.
  • In Massachusetts, Hanscom FCU, which serves Hanscom Air Force Base, said some of its members are eligible for a “LifeLine loan” during the time the government is shut down and paychecks are not being issued.  In addition, Hanscom FCU said it  will waive penalties for premature withdrawals on term share certificates and allow qualified members to skip consumer loan payments with no fee. Members whose paychecks are affected by a shutdown or a furlough are also able to apply for a 0% APR LifeLine loan with a 60-day term, up to 100% of one’s net monthly pay or $5,000, whichever is less. For those needing more than 60 days to repay, the loan will be converted into installment payments over a 12-month term at a low fixed rate of 8.49% APR.
  • The world’s largest credit union, Navy FCU, has announced a plan to cover direct deposit for eligible members during the government shutdown. Coverage for this loan begins if a shutdown extends into the next pay period and pay is interrupted. The credit union is offering assistance to Federal government employees and active duty members of the Coast Guard whose pay has been disrupted by the shutdown, and have an established direct deposit account. Navy Federal will also continue to accept registration for the program until three days after the scheduled pay day.
  • CUToday.com

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