“President Trump’s shutdown of the federal government is inflicting tremendous harm to millions of Americans,” wrote Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, in her letter to heads of financial services industry trade associations and credit reporting agencies. Demanding a prompt written response from them by no later than January 25, 2019, she asked for specifics on what accommodations institutions and member companies are offering to affected consumers.
The letter brought to notice the joint press release issued on January 11, 2019, by five financial regulatory agencies and state regulators, urging institutions to adopt prudent workout arrangements with consumers who may be affected by the ongoing federal government shutdown. The release was issued in response to Waters’ correspondence with the agencies to formulate a statement similar to the one issued during the shutdown in 2013.
As the shutdown entered its 28th day on Friday, Waters pointed out that it is being “needlessly prolonged by President Trump.” Under these circumstances, she urged the institutions to take decisions as outlined in the interagency statement, to help any consumer–whether they are a federal employee, federal contractor, or others–who may be affected by the shutdown.
Emphasizing the adverse effects of the shutdown, she indicated that consumers are not able to make timely payments on debts such as mortgages, student loans, car loans, business loans, or credit cards. This will also lead to affected employees likely to see a reduction in their credit scores, she noted.
“I share the agencies’ view that any affected individual should contact their lenders immediately in the event they are experiencing financial difficulty. However, I believe it would be helpful for your institutions and member companies to engage in proactive outreach to, and provide flexible workout arrangements for, your customers who may be finding it difficult to pay their bills in full and on-time due to the shutdown,” the letter reads.
She also encouraged institutions to consider the appropriateness and fairness of reporting adverse information about their customers to consumer reporting agencies. Waters stated that it is in no one’s interest “to punish those who may be enduring financial stress through no fault of their own.”
“I appreciate that some of your institutions and member companies have already been announcing accommodations for affected consumers, but it is important that there be a robust effort by all institutions to do what they can to help,” Waters wrote.