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OCC to Banks, Thrifts: Winter Storm Closures Okay but Help Consumers
On Friday, January 22, 2016, in anticipation of severe winter storms, the OCC issued a statement authorizing national banks and other federal savings associations in potentially impacted areas to close, but cautioned them on their responsibility to consumers.
The agency reminded banks of their obligations to aid financial institutions and consumers affected by the storm, and recognized the significance of natural disasters, stating: “Prudent efforts to assist customers in areas hit by the disasters should not be subject to bank examiner criticism.” The OCC also offered suggestions on ways to help impacted consumers, including:
- Waiving or reducing ATM fees;
- Temporarily waiving late payment fees or penalties for early withdrawal of savings for affected customers;
- Restructuring borrowers’ debt obligations, when appropriate, by altering or adjusting payment terms and providing payment extensions that reflect individual borrower situations and generally not exceeding 90 days;
- Expediting lending decisions, consistent with safety and soundness principles;
- Reassessing the current credit needs of the community and helping meet those needs by originating or participating in sound loans to rebuild damaged property; and
- Contacting state and federal agencies, as well as other financial institutions, to help mitigate the effects of the event.