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M&T Bank, Baltimore mayor announce fees waived, payments deferred for furloughed federal workers

Workers affected by the partial government shutdown are eligible for financial relief such as fee waivers and payment deferrals, area lenders and Baltimore officials said Monday in separate announcements.

M&T Bank said it’s working with customers who have missed paychecks because of the shutdown, offering special arrangements to business and commercial borrowers as well as to consumers with mortgages, loans, credit cards and lines of credit.

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Also on Monday, Mayor Catherine Pugh approved the waiver of late fees on water bills for furloughed federal employees and contractors who are customers of the city water system.

“This shutdown — now the longest ever — is creating financial constraints on hundreds of thousands of hardworking people, many of whom live in Baltimore,” Pugh said in the announcement. “They deserve our compassion, and we can begin to provide that by not punishing our customers when their water bills get paid late.”

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Congress returns to Washington for its first full week of legislative business since control of the House reverted to Democrats, but lawmakers will be

Pugh said she met with her cabinet Monday to discuss the effects of the shutdown and said she’s been calling on privately owned utilities and financial firms to waive late fees for furloughed workers and contractors.

“People have been very responsive in Baltimore to the request to be as lenient as possible,” Pugh said.

Pugh directed the city’s water department not to impose fees on furloughed workers. The mayor said she has spoken with BGE chief executive Calvin Butler and that the electric utility has agreed to take similar steps.

Federal workers and federal contractors will be eligible for water bill payment plans, allowing them to pay off bills over time once the government shutdown ends, said Rudolph S. Chow, director of the city water department.

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The water bill waiver extends to furloughed federal workers and contractors in the city and Baltimore County. Eligible water customers are asked to send a copy of their work ID and/or a copy of their furlough letter and include name, address account number and request for either payment plan, late-fee waiver or both. A picture of the ID or letter can be emailed to DPW’s Customer Support and Services Division, at DPW.Billing@baltimorecity.gov. For questions, contact the water department’s customer support by email or by calling 410-396-5398.

Customers with a household income within 175 percent of federal poverty level may qualify for a one-time credit of $236 toward a payment plan.

More Americans blame President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress than congressional Democrats for the government shutdown.

In the bank announcement, M&T said customers with consumer loans who notify the bank verbally about their situation can defer payments or make partial payments until back pay is reinstated. Bank branches and contact centers will waive maintenance and nonsufficient funds fees on deposit/checking accounts.

The bank also said it will agree to suppress adverse credit reporting, postpone repossessions and waive late fees on mortgages, credit cards and loans for the rest of the shutdown for affected borrowers who contact the bank. For those who don’t receive back pay or can’t bring loans current, M&T plans to work with customers on options such as loan modifications.

M&T is talking with affected business customers as well to evaluate options. The bank is continuing to process Small Business Administration loan-guarantee applications so they can be quickly approved once the shutdown ends.

To supplement any loss of operating revenue caused by the shutdown, business customers can make arrangements for loan deferrals, interest-only payments and short-term bridge financing while commercial banking customers can get interim loan modifications, interest-only payments or fee waivers.

Another lender, Maryland credit union SECU, also said Monday that it is offering payment deferrals on existing loans as well as reduced rates on new Signature loans.

SECU members can speak with advisers for assistance by visiting any of the credit union's 22 financial centers. Members in need of payment deferrals also can call customer service at 855-308-1236 or 800-879-7328 for help with new loan requests.

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