A month into the partial government shutdown, tens of thousands of government workers are relying on special programs from banks and credit unions to stay financially solvent.
Senior Vice President Tynika Wilson of Navy Federal Credit Union said about 16,000 federal workers – including many workers for the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security – have filed for 0 percent interest loans.
A spokesperson for the credit union said the program offers an advance on direct deposit for federal workers’ missed paycheck, ranging from $250 to $6,000.
Many other banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citi are also offering special programs for federal workers.
Spokesperson Andrew Aldridge said Bank of America offers federal workers special options that are typically reserved for victims of natural disasters. The programs include mortgage forgiveness for up to three months, auto loan forgiveness for up to two months and a suspension of late fees, credit reporting and overdraft penalties.
Last week, Bank of America launched a special program for the shutdown by waiving cash advance fees for credit cards.
“We wanted to make sure that our customers can get access to the cash that they need,” Aldridge said.
He added that workers must call a special line – 844-219-0690 – to discuss options.
Banks are not the only companies to be offering assistance. On Jan. 14, Verizon announced it is waiving late fees and agent assistance fees for federal employees impacted by the shutdown.
“We appreciate everything you do and we’ll continue to do what we can to help you stay connected,” Verizon’s customer service chief Nancy Clark wrote in a statement.
Wilson said the Navy Federal Credit Union is working to plan for a longer shutdown. The credit union planned for the paycheck loan program to cover only one pay period, but extended the program last week when it became clear the shutdown showed no signs of stopping. She added that the credit union will likely extend the program again if the shutdown continues.
She said that while the loans are supposed to be repaid after 60 days, the credit union would likely consider revising its policy.
“We’re really there to help them in their time of need,” she said. “We are committed to assisting our customers through the shutdown.”