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Banks Are Helping Federal Employees Currently Working Without Pay

Jan. 15, 2019
4 min read
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As the partial government shutdown stretches into its fourth week, the longest-ever stalemate in Washington, D.C.'s history is creating insanely long security lines at some of the country's airports, painting apocalyptic scenes at national park restrooms and eating away at business' bottom lines. Those impacts may create headaches for some of us, but the biggest victims in the government shutdown are the federal employees who are not being paid.

While some TPG readers have shown just how caring they are with questions about the ability to tip TSA employees, government workers need a lot more than tips. An analysis from The Washington Post revealed that approximately 110,000 of the employees earn less than $50,000 per year. Missing any paycheck can create serious financial stress.

Some banks are aiming to reduce those worries by offering assistance to government employees. Andy Aldridge, a senior vice president of corporate communications at BoA, told me that the bank is working to determine how to help government employees with a simple cash advance option with their credit cards. While I would usually put cash advances in the “never do this with your credit card” category, Aldridge indicated that BofA is aiming to create a system that lowers interest rates to give customers more attractive terms.

While those details aren't finalized yet, Aldridge said that BofA customers can call the client assistance program at 844-219-0690 for the following help:

  • Waiving fees for credit cards and offering increases in credit lines
  • Waiving checking account overdraft fees
  • Waiving auto loan payments for up to two months
  • Waiving mortgage payments and home equity payments for up to three months

"We are not charging fees and are not reporting to credit bureaus," Aldridge said.

Case-by-Case Basis

Other national banks and credit card issuers are offering assistance, too, and evaluating each customer's financial situation. "Because every situation is different, Wells Fargo is assessing each customers’ individual needs and working with them on a solution," Ann Wasik, a spokesperson for the bank told TPG. "The company offers options on all loan types to help customers avoid the negative consequences of missing a payment, such as late fees, negative credit reporting, auto repossession and foreclosure."

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Wasik said that Wells Fargo will not apply late charges or report negative behavior to credit bureaus for 90 days. In addition to waiving late fees, monthly service fees and a range of other standard customer expenses, Wasik said that Wells Fargo will work with credit card holders and mortgage customers to determine short- or long-term assistance options.

At PNC, customers who are impacted by the shutdown can also find some relief. Like Wells Fargo, the bank is reviewing each customer's needs. Government employees should call 888-762-2265 to discuss their needs.

Small Banks Offer Big Assistance, Too

While nationally recognized credit card issuers are taking steps to help those in need, some smaller institutions are working to make a big impact too. For example, Colorado's Alpine Bank set aside $5 million for a program that will offer six-month, 0% interest loans to government employees, and government employees at First Oklahoma Bank will still receive their paychecks. They'll just be coming from the bank instead.

What to Do If You're a Government Employee

If you're missing your paycheck, you should call your bank to discuss options. Chase issued a statement inviting customers who have been impacted to contact the bank directly at 888-356-0023, while American Express, Capital One and Citi all have similar notices on their websites.

Even if your institution isn't mentioned in this article, chances are that you'll find some type of assistance from the phone number on the back of your credit card. And at TPG, our fingers are crossed that your paychecks return to normal very soon.

Featured image by Getty Images