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Banks, Consumer Protection Bureau offer help with stimulus funds

First Commonwealth Bank is the first community bank to join a state-administered consumer relief initiative that officials say will give consumers and businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak some economic relief. PNC Bank became the first bank based in the commonwealth to join earlier this week.

The PA CARE Package program by the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Office of the Attorney General works with financial institutions to facilitate the recently passed $2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law by President Trump last week. The act inundates the private sector with billions of dollars in liquidity to help hold businesses and households over until health officials can get the virus’ spread under control and the economy can recover.

“We can beat this crisis, but consumers and small businesses need to know their rights and use the resources available to them,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “This commitment will help consumers and businesses in western and central Pennsylvania who are facing lost wages, lost jobs and lost income focus on what’s important — staying safe and healthy during this emergency.”

Officials at First Commonwealth Bank, one of many banks to offer customers support during this time of economic uncertainty, extended payment relief to customers by deferring payment on consumer and small business loans, including credit card payments, for three months without Credit Bureau impact.

“Assisting consumers’ facing financial hardship due to this pandemic is a top priority, and we’re proud to be here to help our customers and their businesses through these challenging times,” said Dave Reed, regional president of First Commonwealth Bank.

Reed said his bank, a Small Business Association preferred lender, is participating “at the highest level possible” in the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program, which will help business customers apply for the funding recently made available to help businesses keep workers employed.

Shapiro’s office said to become part of the PA CARE Package, financial institutions are required to enact forms of assistance, some of which ask private companies to go beyond the CARE Act’s mandates by:

  • Expanding small and medium business loan availability.
  • Enacting a grace period of at least 90 days for mortgages not covered by the CARES Act’s 180-day grace period.
  • Enacting a 90-day grace period for other consumer loans such as auto loans.
  • Enacting a 90-day window for relief from fees and charges that are late or overdraft fees.
  • Instituting a moratorium for foreclosures, evictions and motor vehicle repossession for 60 days.
  • Not adversely reporting credit for customers accessing relief on consumer loans

Justin Henry
Justin Henry is the regional reporter for the Central Penn Business Journal and the Lehigh Valley Business. He can be reached at jhenry@bridgetowermedia.com.

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