Government shutdown: Banks & credit unions have special plans to help furloughed workers

CLEVELAND - Even if the government shutdown ends soon, there are many people in northeast Ohio who have gone without paychecks. With that in mind, some financial institutions are lending a hand to help.

Banks and credit unions are providing a little relief for furloughed families who haven't been paid in while, don't know if they'll get back-pay when the shutdown ends, and are unsure when paychecks will come again.

"We should do whatever we can to help them," said self-proclaimed Army mom Carolyn Doolan whose son is serving in Germany.  She believes military members who've served, taken government jobs after their service, and are now furloughed should get some assistance with bills after the government shutdown.

"I think it's terrible all the way around," she said talking about the shutdown.

"Everyone needs help at some point," said Sabrina Pratt from Navy Federal Credit Union. She told us Navy Federal has established a Furlough Assistance Program. Navy Federal serves the armed forces and their families including in northeast Ohio, where the credit union has heard the concerns.

"That they're just uncertain about what tomorrow will bring," Pratt said. "So, what they're trying to do is make sure their finances are in order."

Navy Federal is offering reduced loan rates, opportunities to withdraw from CDs without any penalties and more.

"We have some assistance and spelling it out very specifically and let them know that they are eligible for that.  That's what we're here for," Pratt said.

And if you don't have a military background, banks are stepping up to help as well.  We spoke with Jerry Kelsheimer who's the President and CEO of Fifth Third Bank in Cleveland.

"Things like modifications to loan terms or changes in payment schedules or structures could be a possibility," Kelsheimer told us. He went on to say his bank has recognized people may be in a tough situation, so it's time to have a conversation.

"I'd encourage anybody that's feeling the stress of this situation and how it might affect their specific financial circumstance, pick up the phone (or) walk into the office. Our bankers are fully prepared," he added.

It's the kind of help moms like Carolyn Doolan appreciate, especially when our government leaders have butted heads.

"I'm proud to be an American. I'm very patriotic," Doolan said. "But, right now I'm very embarrassed of our government."

We also found Unity Catholic Credit Union has implemented help for its members affected by the government shutdown.

So, the bottom line is that if you're directly affected, don't sit back and wonder about how to pay the bills.  You should talk to your financial institutions so you can save your money.

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