Give ‘Em a Break: Fed Tells Banks to Help Workers Hit by Shutdown

The Associated Press

Workers locked out of their jobs by the ongoing federal shutdown may find their banks are willing to help out on things like loans, credit cards, and bank overdrafts.

The Federal Reserve and other government regulators on Friday issued guidance to banks and other lenders encouraging them to offer relief to customers affected by the partial U.S. government shutdown.

“Affected borrowers may face a temporary hardship in making payments on debts such as mortgages, student loans, car loans, business loans or credit cards,” the agencies said in a joing statement. “As they have in prior shutdowns, the agencies encourage financial institutions to consider prudent efforts to modify terms on existing loans or extend new credit to help affected borrowers.”

While the guidance does not require banks to extend more generous terms, many banks are likely to do so in order to maintain their relationships with borrowers and other customers, according to a senior banker who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

“Federal employees are great bank customers because they have steady employment, steady incomes. You don’t want to ding them for missing a payment because the government missed a paycheck,” the banker said.

The guidance essentially gives the regulatory green light to providing relief to these customers by promising not to penalize banks for temporarily loosening standards.

 Regulators described altering loan terms as being in the long-term interest of financial institutions and said modifications would “not be subject to examiner criticism.”


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