Jan. 20, 2018 – As the government shutdown begins today, some banks and credit unions are offering low or no interest loans in the event that the shutdown disrupts February 1st pay. As Feb. 1 approaches, check with your financial institution to see if similar plans are in place. We hope that this information is helpful to veterans and military families.
Resources and Information
Military One Source doesn’t list information specific to the shutdown yet, but you can call their confidential help service if you have questions about what resources are available in the event the shutdown lasts until Feb. 1st
USAA has a page dedicated to helping their members in the event of a government shutdown.
— USAA (@USAA) January 19, 2018
First Command Bank will offer no-interest payroll advances to its clients affected by a shutdown. The bank also plans to work with clients who may have trouble making loan payments, will waive early withdrawal penalties for those who need to redeem a certificate of deposit before its maturity date, and may offer deferments of monthly credit card payments, as well as waiving cash advance fees on credit cards. (via Air Force Times) See their Government Shutdown FAQ.
Navy Federal Credit Union has announced a plan to cover direct deposit for eligible members as the government shutdown goes into effect on January 20. The credit union is offering assistance to Active Duty military, Coast Guard and DoD civilian members who have an established direct deposit with Navy Federal. Those members can opt in to a special program and receive coverage of their direct deposit of net pay if they’re affected.
Program registration begins today on Navy Federal’s website, in branches or by phone at 1-888-842-6328. Wilson urged eligible members to register so their pay is covered. Members impacted by the shutdown who don’t meet the eligibility requirements should visit a branch or call to discuss their situation with a representative.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
For those on active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) may be helpful. Per the DOJ:
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), formerly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA), is a federal law that provides protections for military members as they enter active duty. It covers issues such as rental agreements, security deposits, prepaid rent, eviction, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosure, civil judicial proceedings, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments.
You should contact your nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program office to see if the SCRA applies. Dependents of servicemembers can also contact or visit local military legal assistance offices where they reside. Please consult the military legal assistance office locator for each branch of the armed forces.
Beware of Scams and Predatory Loans
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s site has some helpful information about avoiding predatory loans and “pension poaching”:
1. Never provide personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller or untrusted websites. Scammers have been known to make unsolicited calls claiming to be from the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Department of Veteran Affairs has stated that they “simply do not call Veterans and ask them to disclose personal financial information over the phone.”
Be especially protective of your Social Security Number.
2. Check the IRS’s list of registered non-profit companies and charities and confirm the charitable background of companies that solicit donations. In the past, scammers have masked themselves as part of charitable organizations that benefit veterans and requested “donations”. If you would like to donate to a charitable organization, you can search the IRS’s list of registered charities and non-profit organizations to verify whether an organization is a genuine charity.
3. Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to confirm the legitimacy of local charities. Some scammers have been reported soliciting donations door to door for local organizations. In this case, a background check might be better conducted by contacting your city’s local Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau rates organizations based upon multiple categories of ethical business standards. Veterans Advantage has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau – their highest rating.
Charity Navigator or Guidestar, for instance, are also other credible sources to check out charities.
4. Use Google and other search engines to perform your own background check. Most organizations have their own online website or at least some online content written about them. Use search engines to investigate an organization.
5. Contact the Department of Veteran Affairs. The Department of Veteran Affairs acts as the government’s official department in relation to Veterans Benefits and other official Veteran related matters. By contacting the Department of Veteran Affairs, you can confirm the authenticity of a solicited benefit. You can reach the department at 1-877-222-8387.
6. Prevent Unsolicited Calls and Requests. Respond to unsolicited requests by asking them to mail you information to evaluate their offer and legitimacy on your own time. If they do not comply, ask them to delete your phone contact information from their records.