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Gov't to lenders: Do the right thing by debtors hurt by shutdown

Just because the government shutdown is over doesn't mean that financial headaches are over. The reality is that events like the shutdown have a way of creating a delayed fiscal reaction that can be devastating. Call it the ripple effect.

A lot of consumers are likely to feel some sort of backlash from the shutdown. But it's likely that among those who will feel it the worst are federal workers. Arkansas, according to the website eyeonwashington.com, is home to some 44,000 federal workers. Most of them were on furlough during the 16-day shutdown, meaning that they couldn't work and they didn't get paid. 

That has a way of putting a crimp in anyone's debt management efforts. It should surprise no one, therefore, if many of these workers are facing a tight set of circumstances right now trying to meet mortgage, student loan or credit card debt payments. The workers are due to receive back pay for the shutdown period, but the next check for most of them won't get registered for another week and a half.

To help them through the rough spot, federal lending regulation agencies are trying to spur banks to be proactive in doing the right thing for consumers. They have called on lenders to extend special courtesy to federal workers and private business operators who may have been hurt by the shutdown. They recently reminded the banks that even temporary loan modifications for those hit hardest would be looked upon positively by bank examiners as being in the best interests of lenders, borrowers and the nation's economy.

Whether the banks will respond positively is something we'll have to watch for.

Source: Reuters.com, "U.S. regulators urge banks to work with borrowers during shutdown," Emily Stephenson, Oct. 9, 2013

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