Last summer's hurricanes displaced thousands of people from the Gulf Coast; some of them settled temporarily or permanently in the Eighth District. If hurricane refugees are among your new customers, you can help them with their financial difficulties during the coming tax season by directing them to several resources such as Operation HOPE and the Internal Revenue Service. They have set up hot lines to assist those with questions about financial matters or federal taxes. Trained volunteers from the banking, insurance, mortgage, finance and accounting industries provide free, one-on-one counseling through two call centers run by Operation HOPE at 1-888-388-HOPE (4673). Callers can get information on emergency credit management, deferring loan payments, filing insurance claims, locating lost documents and applying for federal or private assistance. Hurricane victims can also find a wealth of tax-related information at www.irs.gov and can call a special IRS disaster hot line at 1-866-562-5227.
Meanwhile, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, several federal agencies and state financial regulators are encouraging banks, thrifts and credit unions to continue to work with borrowers affected by the hurricanes. Assistance may include waiving fees, lowering interest rates, extending repayment schedules, or deferring principal or interest for an additional period, where appropriate. For these options to be considered, however, it is essential that the borrower contact his or her lender. Additional guidance is available at the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council's web site, www.ffiec.gov.
When the new $10 bill comes out, will your institution be ready to tell the fakes from the real deal? Eighth District commercial banks will be among the first to receive the new bills, starting March 2.
The new $10 note—like the previously redesigned $20 and $50 notes—incorporates state-of-the-art security features to combat counterfeiting, including three that are easy to use by cash handlers and consumers alike:
Learn more from the Treasury at www.moneyfactory.gov/newmoney/.
At this time of year, the Federal Reserve reminds institutions that qualifying community banks may receive seasonal credit to help them meet the seasonal needs of their customers. Community banks that experience yearly fluctuations in their deposits and loans—caused by construction, farming, college or resort activities, municipal financing and other seasonal businesses—frequently qualify.
Banks can use their seasonal credit line either as a primary seasonal funding source or as backstop credit. Once established, credit may be drawn down incrementally as needed, and partial and full prepayments are allowed without penalty.
There is no expense involved in setting up or maintaining the seasonal line; however, all Federal Reserve loans must be secured to the Fed's satisfaction, and a flexible, market-based rate is applied to all outstanding loans.
To learn more, call the St. Louis Fed's Credit office at 1-866-666-8316 or send an e-mail to email@example.com. For an application and a brochure, visit our web site, www.stlouisfed.org/banking/credit/.