MADISON, Wis. (10/3/13)--The federal government's partial shutdown is showcasing credit unions' best efforts to help members who will bear the financial brunt of the shutdown, and the media are fast picking up on that fact. News reporters have told the Credit Union National Association they are impressed with how much faster credit unions have stepped up to the plate to assist members through the shutdown than banks have.
One tweet, from Generations FCU in San Antonio, says it all: "pr_gfcu: We don't need a #governmentshutdown to help our members. ANYTIME you need help, call your #creditunions @CUNA @Cornerstone_CUL.
Dozens of credit unions have indicated they are offering assistance to federal employees. Some are using Twitter and Facebook to inform members of their shutdown assistance. For example: "Cornerstone CUL: Dallas CU on gov't shutdown, 'Our members are essential to us, so we'll be there for them during uncertain times.' goo.gl/ios6aB." And FAA CU, Oklahoma City, Okla. tweeted: "@FAACreditUnion: We are offering assistance to government employees being impacted by the shutdown. Learn more at http://t.co/uqF9g8tQVa."
Belvoir FCU, a $317.9 million asset credit union in Woodbridge, Va., has traditionally been in the forefront in an area dominated by $1 billion + asset credit unions in taking action to help members, said Jason Lindstrom, Belvoir's chief marketing officer. "We have a military/Department of Defense contractor field of membership and are always actively trying to assist our membership when issues like this arise," he said.
Belvoir has a dedicated page on its website with information about how it will help members through furloughs. It offers an emergency loan of up to $5,000 at a fixed-rate of 4.99% annual percentage rate (APR) but at 0% for the first 60 days. The maximum term is 12 months and members can defer their first payment for 60 days. Members also can meet with a loan officer to determine whether a loan workout program will ease the financial hardship. It also allows the member to skip a regular consumer loan payment at no charge, and members can withdraw money early from their share certificates to weather the shutdown without a penalty.
Most credit unions with shutdown assistance provide the same types of services as Belvoir, with a variety of emergency loans with extra low or 0% rates and payment deferral; payroll replacement/advance assistance (temporary loans that replace the furloughed employee's salary); Skip-a-Payment programs; penalty-free share certificate withdrawals; and financial counseling or workout loans.
Others who have stepped up to the plate include:
Other credit unions with similar programs include: Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo.; EvergreenDIRECT CU, Olympia, Wash.; US Agencies CU, Portland, Ore.; Department of the Interior FCU, Washington, D.C.; and Meritrust CU and TECU CU, both of Wichita, Kan. News Now reported 14 other credit unions with similar programs in two related stories, CUs Offering Help To Furloughed Fed Employees and CUs In Place To Assist Federal Employees.
Many view these programs as exceptional service. Others view the services they offer as "business as usual."
"Our normal course of business includes working with our members by providing services like short-term income interruption loan when unusual events happen," said Lisette Comai-Legrant, assistant vice president of operations at First Alliance CU, a $138 million asset credit union in Rochester, Minn. "We help our members review their finances and determine what kinds of services they need to help them get through a rough patch," she told the Minnesota Credit Union Network.
Topline FCU, Maple Grove, Minn. echoed that. The $340 million asset credit union "stands ready to help any member affected by the government shutdown, just as we would help any member at any time who finds themselves with unexpected challenges in their lives," said Harry Carter, president/CEO.
And in case anyone misses the message, Jim Morrell, president/CEO of Peninsula Community CU, a $149 million asset credit union in Shelton, Wash.--which also offers online financial assessments and money-management classes--says it loud and clear. "If a member raises concerns about how they are going to manage their money," he told his employees, "please reiterate our mission: We listen, we serve, we educate, we care...Always."
These programs are examples of fostering service excellence and building awareness of the value of credit unions to members and their community, chief tenets of the Credit Union National Association's and state leagues' Unite for Good campaign that is working to achieve the goal where Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial partner. Use the links for more information.