WASHINGTON — With the Department of Homeland Security set to run out of money at midnight on Feb. 27 unless Congress approves funding for the agency, credit unions serving government entities, law enforcement and more are stepping up to make sure members know assistance is available in the event of a work stoppage.
A DHS shutdown could impact credit union members employed not only by the Department of Homeland Security, but US Customs and Border Protection, FEMA, the Coast Guard, US Immigration, the Secret Service and TSA.
At Justice FCU in Chantilly, Va., members dealing with a shutdown or furlough can receive unsecured loans of up to $10,000 (based on the member's net pay deposit, with direct deposit required) at 0% for the first 60 days, with a first payment deferred for up to 60 days if the member chooses. After that, loans convert to a 4.9% APR for a 24-month term.
Existing loans and credit cards can also have one payment deferred at the member's request, and the credit union is encouraging members to work with the CU to find financial solutions in the event of work stoppages.
"As the financial partner to the justice and law enforcement community, supporting our members in time of need is a vital part of our mission," President and CEO Peter Sainato said in a statement. "We were there for our members during the last government shutdown and stand ready to offer assistance once again."
At Hanscom FCU, Hanscom AFB, Mass., members can request a "LifeLine Loan" equal to one month's net payroll, up to $5,000. The loan includes a 0% APR with no payment due for the first 60 days. If not repaid within 60 days, those loans convert to installment loans with an 8.49% APR repayable over a 12-month term.
Members will also be able to make penalty-free withdrawals on certificates and, if approved, skip loan payments without a fee. Additionally, a tool kit is available on Hanscom's website with worksheets, checklists and tips on how to deal with a drop in income. Free, confidential one-on-one phone sessions with certified financial counselors are also available.
Navy FCU, the nation's largest credit union, has announced it will cover the normal net amount of direct deposit for members who are part of the Coast Guard or are employed by DHS.
None of this is new for these credit unions, many of which have rolled out similar programs in recent years to assist members impacted by sequestration, the "fiscal cliff," the government shutdown and more.