Ent Credit Union, ANB Bank and other local financial institutions are taking actions such as reducing or waiving fees and allowing customers to defer loan payments in an effort to help those who have been furloughed or lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the largest regional and nationwide banks serving the Colorado Springs area also are offering some type of help for customers affected by the pandemic, including Wells Fargo, Chase, US Bank, FirstBank and UMB Bank. Many are directed at businesses, and their employees, that have been forced to close or curtail operations under orders from state and local officials to slow the spread of the virus .
Banks across the nation are scrambling to put into place loan forgiveness and relief programs, working to keep their customers from panicking or falling into financial ruin, according to the Associated Press. They have a vested interest in preventing millions of people and businesses from defaulting on hundreds of billions of loans at once.
Banks have plenty of capital on hand to handle this crisis, economists say. But the potential for millions of their customers to default on credit cards, small business loans and mortgages means banks have to do something to protect borrowers, many of whom went from having a job or a business to nothing.
Ent told members in a letter last week that members struggling to make mortgage payments won’t be charged late fees or have their credit histories affected by slow payments. Members with auto or personal loans can skip up to two payments without paying a fee, can make interest-only payments and can get temporary rate reductions or emergency loans with rates starting at zero percent. Ent also is offering emergency business loans of up to $50,000.
“Until further notice, we are suspending or drastically reducing our fees,” said Chad Graves, CEO of Ent, the area’s largest financial institution. “This includes eliminating fees for excessive transactions for savings and money market accounts, minimum account balances, Skip-A-Pay and credit card usage for loan payments. Our overdraft/nonsufficient funds fees are now just $0.01. We are waiving early CD withdrawal fees to help members access their money for immediate needs.”
Denver-based ANB Bank is offering a three-month deferral of payments on all consumer and commercial loans that require monthly principal and interest payments with no fees or penalties. The offer is available to all customers, and borrowers don’t need to prove they’re affected by the virus. The bank also is reducing rates on variable-rate loans and temporarily removing any floor on rates through year’s end.
”Our low-moderate risk underwriting, our privately held model, and the fact that all our loans are portfolio loans (not sold to other institutions) put us in a unique position to respond to this challenge in a truly meaningful manner — one that will provide financial and emotional relief to our ANB customers in this challenging time,” ANB CEO Koger Propst said Friday in a news release.
Central Bank of Colorado Springs is “working individually with our clients to understand their situations and how we can tailor a solution to help them through this,” spokeswoman Courtney Mimmo said in an email. The bank is allowing borrowers to defer payments and modify loans and is helping businesses apply for special U.S. Small Business Administration loans.
FirstBank, Colorado’s second-largest bank, is allowing customers to defer up to three payments on mortgages, home-equity loans and consumer installment loans. The Lakewood-based bank also is refunding nonsufficient funds and Visa card fees and early withdrawal penalties as well as reducing interest rates on credit cards to zero percent and its cash reserve line of credit to 0.001% for a month, if customers request it.
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