Finance regulators, providers offering help to Harvey victims

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CARY, N.C. - 

As Texas continues to contend with the ongoing torrential rain and flooding, state and federal financial regulatory agencies along with finance providers are taking steps to offer assistance to customers who have been impacted.

Officials from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and state bank regulators all said they recognize the serious impact of Hurricane Harvey on the customers and operations of many financial institutions. The agencies all insisted they will provide regulatory assistance to affected institutions subject to their supervision.

The agencies added that they are encouraging institutions in the affected areas to meet the financial services needs of their communities.

“Bankers should work constructively with borrowers in communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. The agencies realize that the effects of natural disasters on local businesses and individuals are often transitory, and prudent efforts to adjust or alter terms on existing loans in affected areas should not be subject to examiner criticism,” officials said.

“In supervising institutions affected by the hurricane, the agencies will consider the unusual circumstances they face,” they continued. “The agencies recognize that efforts to work with borrowers in communities under stress can be consistent with safe-and-sound banking practices as well as in the public interest.”

Like the regulators, American Bankers Association president and chief executive officer Rob Nichols echoed a similar sentiment about helping consumers and providers throughout Texas.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those caught in the path of Hurricane Harvey, including the first responders doing their best to save lives,” Nichols said in a statement. “We are reaching out to offer our support to banks affected by Harvey, and ABA stands ready to work with the Texas Bankers Association, regulators and local officials to ensure the banking system continues to serve and support communities hit by this devastating storm.”

Finance companies, including the captive for Toyota and Lexus are joining the assistance stream, too.

Toyota Financial Services (TFS) announced it is offering payment relief options to its customers affected by Hurricane Harvey. This broad outreach includes any TFS or Lexus Financial Services (LFS) customer in the designated disaster areas.

“We at Toyota Financial Services care about the safety and well-being of our customers and want to help those impacted by the hurricane,” captive officials said. “Impacted lease and finance customers residing in the devastated areas may be eligible to take advantage of several payment relief options.”

Those options include:

—Extensions and lease deferred payments

—Redirecting billing statements

—Arranging phone or on-line payments

Toyota Financial Services insisted it will proactively attempt to contact customers in the affected areas to assess their needs and inform customers of the options available to them.

“We extend our heartfelt thoughts to those affected by the natural disaster,” captive officials added.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo not only is looking to help its customers with payment options, but the bank also announced on Monday that it is donating $1 million to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey and the extensive flooding left in its wake.

Wells Fargo is donating $500,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and an additional $500,000 to local nonprofits focused on recovery and relief efforts in Texas in the coming days and weeks.

“Wells Fargo is deeply concerned for all of those affected by the devastating flooding in Texas, and we’re committed to helping our customers, neighbors, team members and communities get through this,” said David Miree, lead region bank president. “With forecasts calling for more rain and potentially more flooding, we will continue to work with nonprofits and those focused on relief efforts, as we determine any additional assistance and support Wells Fargo may be able to provide.”