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Governor Hochul Announces Banking Guidance to Ease Financial Burdens for Those Impacted by Hurricane Fiona

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced new actions to engage New York’s financial services industry to support residents of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. The Department of Financial Services issued guidance calling on New York state-chartered banks to take all reasonable steps to assist consumers and businesses affected by the hurricane including waiving ATM and late fees, increasing ATM withdrawal limits, and facilitating and expediting the transmission of funds. These actions will help ease financial burdens for the many New Yorkers seeking to support family and friends in Puerto Rico, as well as anyone in Puerto Rico with New York bank accounts.

“As they rebuild from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Fiona, Puerto Rico is in critical need of a wide range of resources and assistance that New York is ready to provide,” Governor Hochul said. “We will do everything in our power to help our sisters and brothers on the island of Puerto Rico during this time of crisis, and the actions announced today offer additional financial aid and support from New York to help them on their road to recovery.”

New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris said, “The action taken today will ensure that banks that do business on the island take reasonable steps to deliver crucial support to the people and businesses of Puerto Rico as they begin efforts to recover from this devastating natural disaster.”

In guidance to banks issued today, Financial Services Superintendent Harris requested that all reasonable and prudent efforts be undertaken to assist customers affected by the hurricanes, and encouraged efforts, including the following:

  • Waiving ATM fees;
  • Waiving overdraft fees;
  • Easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks;
  • Easing credit terms for new loans;
  • Increasing credit card limits for creditworthy customers;
  • Waiving late fees for credit card and other loan balances;
  • Offering payment accommodations, such as allowing loan customers to defer or skip some payments or extending the payment due dates, which would avoid delinquencies and negative credit agency reporting caused by disaster-related disruptions; and
  • Working collaboratively with money transmitters and other money services businesses to facilitate and expedite transmission of funds and availability of cash to those affected by Hurricane Fiona.

A copy of the guidance to banks can be found here.

Since Hurricane Maria, New York has helped Puerto Rico secure billions of dollars in federal funding from FEMA to recover and rebuild the island’s energy infrastructure, in addition to NYPA performing technical assessments of powerplants and substations on the island. In the wake of Hurricane Fiona, the worst storm to hit the island since Hurricane Maria, Governor Hochul announced New York State actions to assist Puerto Rico in relief efforts. These efforts have further strengthened New York’s long-standing commitment to help Puerto Rico in its reconstruction and recovery.

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