By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
With a location at 90th Street and East Via Linda, FirstBank is helping those impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic with a customer-assistance program, increased compensation for on-site employees, and its newly created Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund.
“We recognize that the global spread of coronavirus has serious financial implications for millions of families,” FirstBank CEO Jim Reuter says. “We want to do what we can to ensure our customers, communities and employees have the resources needed to get through these challenging times.”
To date, FirstBank’s efforts for qualified individuals include:
Loan relief programs
Consumer loan deferrals: FirstBank is giving consumer borrowers who are directly or indirectly impacted by the coronavirus the ability to defer up to three payments on residential mortgage loans, home equity installment loans and consumer installment loans. Customers can email email@example.com or contact 1-833-962-1506 to discuss their mortgage, home equity or personal loan.
Business and commercial loan support: FirstBank is also committed to helping business customers who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the pandemic. Commercial borrowers may have the ability to defer up to three payments. To discuss an existing commercial loan, borrowers should contact their FirstBank loan officer or the bank’s main customer service department at 1-800-964-3444 (option 0) to inquire about available assistance.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program: As a preferred SBA lender, FirstBank is enabling its business depositors and borrowers to apply for Paycheck Protection. The program is designed to not only help businesses keep or rehire employees, but pay loan interest, rent and utilities. The loan is also eligible for forgiveness by the SBA. More information and how to apply is available on FirstBank’s website by clicking on the “Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program” banner. Customers can also reach out to their FirstBank loan officer to learn more.
Other Customer Assistance
Additionally, FirstBank is extending financial flexibility to customers who are taking unpaid time off due to quarantine and whose employer does not offer paid leave in these circumstances.
For example, it is offering fee refunds. Fees such as nonsufficient fund fees, Visa card fees and early withdrawal penalties will be waived or refunded for impacted customers. If related to their quarantine situation, customers may also be able to avoid transactional fees for bank offerings such as wires, cashier’s checks or money orders.
Employee Health and Safety
FirstBank is taking necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of its employees and customers. For instance, the majority of FirstBank locations are accessible via drive-up or by appointment only, while other branches have been temporarily closed. An up-to-date list of active locations can be found on FirstBank’s branch status page.
It also expanded its remote working capabilities and is following strict adherence to all cleaning procedures and social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additionally, FirstBank has increased pay for on-site employees, providing an additional $2 per hour for all hourly employees who are needed at branch locations or in office to support customer volume.
It also instituted an emergency sick leave policy, where employees experiencing symptoms or in quarantine can receive two additional weeks of paid leave. The new policy also covers parents who are unable to work or telework due to school or day care closures. The bank is committed to working with employees should they need more time off for recovery or quarantine.
FirstBank indicated it is in a strong financial position to not only bolster community support but weather the economic implications brought on by the virus.
“We have always prioritized long-term stability and smart, conservative lending over quick gains,” Reuter added. “That approach has helped us come out of several economic downturns stronger than before. We’re confident that will be the case this time around.”
With 31 branches across Arizona, WaFd Bank has launched an assistance program specifically designed for homeowners impacted by the coronavirus that allows monthly mortgage payments to be deferred for three months.
WaFd Bank’s Homeowner Assistance Department is also available to assist its mortgage customers faced with financial difficulty. There are programs that allow homeowners to stay in their homes by providing temporary changes to their monthly payment by adjusting the interest rate or other terms of the loan. There are also options for homeowners who no longer wish to keep their home. Some of the possible options that may be available to are:
Refinance: Clients may be able to refinance their loan with WaFd or another lender.
Modification of an existing loan: You may be able to adjust your current loan terms with us.
Sale of your home: You may be able to sell your home and satisfy your mortgage, even if the sale price is less than your current loan balance.
Deed-in-lieu of foreclosure: You may be released from your mortgage if you transfer ownership of your home to WaFd Bank.
To proceed with an application or obtain additional information, you may contact the local WaFd Bank branch, call 1-866-453-9710 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional help in exploring any and all option options, the federal government provides a list of Housing and Urban Development-approved, nonprofit, home ownership counseling organizations.