News Release 2015-167 | December 30, 2015
OCC Encourages National Banks and Federal Savings Associations to Work with Customers Affected by Recent Extreme Weather; Allows Banks to Close
WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reminds national banks and federal savings associations of guidance to assist financial institutions and customers affected by extreme weather, such as the recent flooding along the Mississippi River.
In addition, the OCC issued a proclamation allowing national banks and federal savings associations at their discretion to close offices located in the Midwest and Southern United States and affected by the recent severe weather. Senior Deputy Comptroller for Midsize and Community Bank Supervision Toney Bland said he expects that only those bank offices directly affected by the extreme weather will close. Those offices should make every effort to reopen as quickly as possible to address the banking needs of their customers, he added.
The OCC recognizes the significant effects of natural disasters on individuals and businesses, and prudent efforts to assist customers in areas hit by the disasters should not be subject to bank examiner criticism. OCC Bulletin 2012-28 provides supervisory guidance for banks and thrifts responding to disaster conditions in their communities.
The OCC encourages national banks and federal savings associations to consider various alternatives to assist affected customers that may include:
- waiving or reducing ATM fees,
- temporarily waiving late payment fees or penalties for early withdrawal of savings for affected customers,
- restructuring borrowers’ debt obligations, when appropriate, by altering or adjusting payment terms and providing payment extensions that reflect individual borrower situations and generally not exceeding 90 days,
- expediting lending decisions, consistent with safety and soundness principles,
- reassessing the current credit needs of the community and helping meet those needs by originating or participating in sound loans to rebuild damaged property, and
- contacting state and federal agencies, as well as other financial institutions, to help mitigate the effects of the event.
National banks and federal savings associations in need of assistance in dealing with customers affected by the extreme weather should contact the OCC.