DFS urges financial institutions to assist Puerto Rico consumers affected by earthquakes


Encouraging the assistance of consumers in the aftermath of more earthquakes in Puerto Rico, the state Department of Financial Services has issued guidelines for financial institutions, including credit unions.

The call comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Feb. 5 announced actions to encourage financial investments in communities in Puerto Rico and to support residents facing financial hardship after recent earthquakes devastated the island.

“The Department urges all New York financial institutions to do whatever they can to support our neighbors as they recover from the recent earthquakes and natural disasters,” said DFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell in a statement. “Puerto Ricans have experienced exceptional hardship over the past years due to Mother Nature, and these actions by DFS continue the efforts by New York State to step up and lend a hand to the people of Puerto Rico.”

Lacewell is urging state financial institutions to make “all reasonable and prudent” efforts to assist consumers affected by the earthquakes, and encouraged the following actions:

  • waiving ATM and overdraft fees;
  • increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits;
  • easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks;
  • easing credit terms for new loans;
  • increasing credit card limits for creditworthy customers;
  • waiving late fees for credit card and other loan balances;
  • offering payment accommodations, such as allowing loan customers to defer payments or extend the payment due dates;
  • working collaboratively with money transmitters and other money services businesses to facilitate and expedite transmission of funds and availability of cash; and
  • reaching out to customers via app announcements, text, email or otherwise to explain the above-listed assistance available to consumers.

The New York Credit Union Foundation continues to accept disaster relief donations in response to the damage caused by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake on Jan. 7 and additional earthquakes that have since occurred in Puerto Rico. Funds raised are being used to help those who have been impacted by the earthquake and its aftershocks, which have caused widespread power outages, collapsed buildings and severe infrastructural damage.

The New York Credit Union Association and the Foundation have close relationships with credit unions in Puerto Rico; a number of credit unions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are associate members of the Association. Additionally, New York has the largest Puerto Rican population on the mainland U.S.

To make a donation, visit the Foundation’s website.


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