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Gallagher to Lending Industry: Reach out with Disaster Recovery Assistance


CONTACT: Tami Torres
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE-Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is asking lenders to offer a compassionate response to Floridians dealing with the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Charley and Frances, including eliminating fees for lending transactions and granting loan payment extensions to affected customers.

"I'm asking financial service companies to reach out to help the thousands of storm victims," Gallagher said. "When disaster strikes, we must all stand together to help those in need, and I'm proud to partner with Florida's lending industry in getting our citizens on the road to recovery."

Gallagher offered the following suggestions for lenders assisting borrowers who are in the process of rebuilding after the storms. Within prudent lending guidelines, lenders should recognize individual circumstances and consider the following:

· Waiving or reducing fees for services.

· Waiving or reducing late fee penalties on past due loan payments.

· Not reporting forbearance or delinquencies to national credit reporting agencies for a specified time period.

· Promptly releasing insurance proceeds in excess of mortgage balances to pay for repairs.

· Promptly releasing funds intended for living expenses.

· Waiving restrictive appraisal requirements, if applicable.

· For refinancing and home equity lines of credit, accept customer's waiver of the 3-day right of rescission.

· Discussing payment plan options such as:
o Reducing or suspending payments.
o Allowing for skipped payments.
o Extending repayment terms on loans.
o Refinancing loans.
o Increasing credit line and credit card limits.

· Considering uninsured losses, extended unemployment, and extraordinary storm-related expenses of the borrowers when discussing payment plans and options.

· Rapidly responding to requests for inspections for construction draws.

· Reducing inspection fees and unnecessary paperwork.

· Allowing consumers to restructure debt by easing credit extension terms for new loans.

· Advising borrowers of federal agencies who may assist with disaster relief.

· Empathizing and working with your customers.

Consumers needing storm related assistance should call the Department of Financial Services' hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.