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ALEXANDRIA, Va.-NCUA is working hand-in-hand with a number of other organizations to assist credit union members in those areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson and Board Member Debbie Matz said the agency is working with other federal agencies, trade associations, State Supervisory Authorities, the leagues, and vendors to ensure the credit unions are able to function as quickly as possible. NCUA officials have been able to contact a number of credit unions in the impacted areas and some have opened alternative locations. “We are receiving numerous phone calls, primarily from members, inquiring about the status of their credit union. We are organizing our resources to establish back-up teams to be launched into the affected areas,” Johnson stated. Members can check on their credit union’s status through NCUA’s Web site (www.ncua.gov) in the form of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. At www.ncua.gov/Katrina/operatingstatus.pdf, members can check to see if their credit union is operational or not. The FAQ explains the best options for obtaining funds from their accounts where service may have been interrupted; how they might access their accounts remotely; and explains that their accounts in federally insured credit unions are backed the National Credit Union Administration Share Insurance Fund up to $100,000. “During tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina, clear and concise information is important to families affected by the devastation,” Johnson stated. “Having access to financial services is a critical part in the recovering efforts. NCUA will continue to assist institutions, credit union members, and communities across the Gulf Coast as they work to recover from this terrible disaster.” NCUA also set up a toll-free phone number and e-mail addresses for members to learn about the credit unions in the damaged areas. The phone number is 800-827-6282 with extensions for Alabama and Mississippi (x3049), Louisiana (x4049), and data processing inquiries (x8049). The e-mail addresses for each state are: * Alabama: [email protected] * Louisiana: [email protected] * Mississippi: [email protected] “We at NCUA want to make sure credit union members have access to their funds and want to facilitate the ease with which that occurs,” Matz commented. “The toll-free number and frequently asked questions will hopefully serve this purpose.” NCUA has also created a Hurricane Katrina Task Force headed up by Region II Director Ed Dupcak to coordinate the agency’s efforts, including contingency plans and abandoned credit unions. Part of this is maintaining contact with the trade associations and processors. NCUA held a conference call on the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept.6 with core credit union processors to discuss how to better work together on several issues concerning Katrina and planned to hold a meeting with the trade associations following the House Financial Services Committee’s informal roundtable. NCUA Director of Congressional and Governmental Affairs Cliff Northup said the agency has not heard of any looting at credit unions, but NCUA really does not know the condition of credit union vaults in the area. In a public service announcement, NCUA assured members of federally insured credit unions that the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund insures their deposits up to $100,000. NCUA estimated that 344,181 credit union members were affected in Louisiana alone, Northup said. This was a theme the banking agencies stressed as well. NCUA-jointly with the banking regulators, the Federal Reserve and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors-encouraged financial services providers to consider “all reasonable and prudent steps” to help their customers and members affected by Hurricane Katrina. To the extent it is safe and sound, the agencies suggested that financial institutions: * Waive ATM fees for customers and non-customers; * Increase ATM daily cash withdrawal limits; * Ease restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks; * Waive overdraft fees as a result of paycheck interruption; * Waive early withdrawal penalties on time deposits; * Waive availability restrictions on insurance checks; * Allow loan customers to defer or skip some payments; * Waive late fees for credit card and other loan balances due to interruption of mail and/or billing statements or the customer’s inability to access funds; * Ease credit card limits and credit terms for new loans; and * Delay delinquency notices to the credit bureaus Of highest priority is for financial institutions to allow customers and members access to their deposit accounts and other financial assets. In consultation with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the regulators also urged financials to be reasonable in identity verification of individuals displaced by Katrina. “A depository institution in the affected area, or dealing with new customers from the affected area, may amend its Customer Identification Program immediately and obtain required board approval for program changes as soon as practicable,” the agencies said. [email protected]

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