Md. Credit Unions Focus on ‘Getting Members Through This’

    Maryland’s credit unions are putting out the word that they’re open for business during the COVID-19 crisis and offering financial assistance and payment flexibility for members who are experiencing economic uncertainty.

    A recent membership survey conducted by the MD|DC Credit Union Association shows credit unions are offering immediate relief to consumers struggling to pay bills through loan modifications, fee waivers and other
    assistance programs:

    • 95% of are offering loan modifications such as skip-a-payment, low or no-interest loans, or increased line of credit.
    • 53% of are offering new emergency loan products with deferred payments and/or reduced or no interest.
    • 60% are waiving fees or penalties for overdraft, loan applications, ATM, or early withdrawal from CDs.

    “We’ve provided guidance to our lending and collections areas that they need to be listening for members who have been financially impacted by the pandemic,” Jim Whipp, president and CEO of Five Star FCU in Catonsville said in a statement. “This may include offering no cost skip-a-payments, waiving fees, or re-writing a loan with new more flexible or affordable terms. We’re focused on getting our members through this.”

    Consumers are advised to contact their credit union directly for details on assistance programs and are encouraged to visit the MD|DC Credit Union Association’s Consumer Resource page for individual credit union contact information.

    Many credit union lobbies are open by appointment
    only. Drive-thrus and ATMs, as well as online and mobile banking options are encouraged.

    “We want consumers to know that we are here to help — as we have been in the aftermath of the Great Depression and the Great Recession,” said MD|DC Credit Union Association President/CEO John Bratsakis. “A number of recent national polls indicate that more Americans are worried about the effect of the coronavirus on the economy than about their own health. We urge consumers to be proactive and reach out to credit unions for immediate assistance if they are experiencing financial distress.”

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.