Banks urged to ‘work constructively’ with hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, USVI

Noting that Hurricane Maria caused significant property damage in Puerto Rico and portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands, banks are being encouraged by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to “work constructively with customers experiencing difficulties beyond their control.”

In a Financial Institution Letter (FIL) released Wednesday (Sept. 27), the FDIC said “working constructively” may include (when consistent with safety and soundness) waiving fees, increasing ATM cash limits, easing credit card limits, allowing loan customers to defer or skip payments, and delaying the submission of delinquency notices to credit bureaus.

The deposit insurer also said that extending repayment terms, restructuring existing loans, or easing terms for new loans, “if done in a manner consistent with sound banking practices,” can contribute to the health of the community and serve the long-term interests of the lending institution.

“The FDIC encourages depository institutions to use non-documentary verification methods permitted by the Customer Identification Program requirement of the Bank Secrecy Act for affected customers who cannot provide standard identification documents,” the agency said. “Banks may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery.”

FDIC Financial Institution Letter (FIL-46-2017): Guidance to Help Financial Institutions and Facilitate Recovery in Areas Affected by Hurricane Maria