The Shutdown Roundup
As this Shutdown carries on, we’ve gotten a number of questions that we’d like to answer all in one place. This is simply some advice (and answers!) that we’d like to offer based on more combined years of experience with helping members than we can really count.
Can you guys help me?
We sure want to! First things first, we need to know what you need help with. We're offering Skip-a-Payment on a number of our loans, Furlough Loans, waived fees on a number of our savings accounts and certificates… We suggest you head to our Furlough Center and see which of these items best fits your needs.
Can I stop by and talk to someone?
Of Course! However, we need to let you know a few things. Take a look at the list below and make sure that the Financial Service Center you’d like to visit is operating at full capacity. We do have a few that are closed down at the moment.
- Brentwood – Starting January 14th and continuing for approximately 12 weeks, this Financial Service Center (FSC) will be closed while it undergoes planned, scheduled maintenance by the USPS.
- National – As of right now, due to the shutdown, we’re unable to serve members who do not work at the Constitution Ave location. We apologize for this inconvenience.
- On–Site Service Center – National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), College Park. Due to the Shutdown, this location is closed.
Do I qualify for membership?
We sure hope so. Unlike banks, Credit Unions have a limited field of membership and you'll need to fall into ours. A quick overview of our membership:
- All federal civilian employees and annuitants in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, and their Immediate Family and Household Members.
- All federal contractors in the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia metropolitan areas, (from companies such as Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, and The Boeing Company) and their Immediate Family and Household Members.
For the rest of the details (specific counties that we serve) click here!
I want to apply for a loan, how do I do that?
Excellent – simply click here and you will be taken to our online application. Keep in mind, you must be a member of FedChoice to take advantage of any loan we offer. Not a member? Learn more about our membership requirements here!
I’m not sure what the best idea is for me, how do I figure it out?
We can help with that. Give us a call and we can work with you on how we can best assist. Our Member Care Center has years of experience helping members during tough times (this isn’t our first Shutdown either). We can offer guidance on everything from what to pay first all the way down to if we can help you with any loans you have with us.
I don’t have any loans with FedChoice, can you still help me?
No worries! We understand that our members may have had a financial need they decided to use another company for. We can still offer some basic advice depending on the situation. While we can’t tell you if what you are doing will cause a fee elsewhere, we can help you figure out how to best allocate your funds.
You told me in an email to cancel my Auto Transfers, how do I do that?
We did tell you that – we wanted to make sure that you knew not having funds could cause a potential fee or an overdrawn account. Each credit union and bank handles transactions differently. We would prefer you take a look at any scheduled transfers anyway – it never hurts to review them once in a while.
To cancel a transfer that starts at FedChoice - simply login to eBanking and click on the account the funds are coming from. Then, click on the X by the transaction you’d like to cancel under scheduled transactions (you can find this under your Transaction History). Need help? Chat, send us an email or call us at 301.699.6100 so we can assist.
I cancelled my transfer, now what?
For now, you should make your payment manually from an account that has money available in it. And, once the Shutdown is over and you’re receiving your paycheck again, we recommend that you go back in and set up the automatic transfer that was in place before. This way, you can avoid a late fee!
But I’m not getting paid! I don't have an account with money in it! Now what?
We’re here for you – we’ve been working with members right and left. Between Skip-a-Pays, Furlough Loans, Extensions, answering questions and giving advice, we’ve helped more members than we can count (totally true, we lost the piece of paper). If you haven’t reached out yet, now is the time. If the loan is with us, we can discuss options with you. If the loan is with someone else and you need quick access to funds, our Furlough Loan is a great option.
I’m starting to feel like I'm running out of options.
Ok, first of all, you still have options! This isn’t something we normally talk about on our website, but we really want you to give your lenders a call. We’ve been keeping up with the news and reading the articles. There are a lot of Banks and Credit Unions that are offering assistance right now! If you believe you're going to have issues making a payment, we encourage you to reach out to the lender. Bank of America, Quicken and Wells Fargo have said to give them a call if you are having issues making your mortgage payment and we’re going to second that advice, CALL YOUR LENDER. They can’t help unless they know what is going on (granted, they aren’t as in tune with the Federal Community as we are, but they’re not perfect…). If you aren’t able to make a payment, the first call you want to make is to your mortgage company (or companies if you happen to have a Home Equity Loan or Line-of-Credit – and if that happens to be our Home Equity Loan or Line-of-Credit, please give us a call).
Can we stop a payment?
Sure we can, however we’re going to ask some questions before we do (stick with us for a second here). We want to help you make good, informed decisions. We’re going to try and make sure it’s the best thing for you to do at this time. We may recommend that you give your other lender or the utility company a call and discuss things with them, but yes, we can stop payments for you providing the payment comes from your FedChoice account..
Can I skip another payment?
This is a great question and we don’t have an answer at this moment – but believe us, we’re so glued to the news we had to remind someone to go home the other day. We’re following the Shutdown closely and as we’re getting further into things we will better know the answer to this. One thing we do want to point out with skipping payments – interest does continue to accrue. So, if you skip enough payments (we’re really hoping it doesn’t come to that!) there is a chance that you may have an interest only payment.
What is this about you funding new member accounts?
We are doing this to help even more people impacted by the Shutdown. We are doing our darnedest to get those funds into new account quickly since we know a number of people are joining as members to take advantage of our Furlough Loan. We will put $5.00 in every account opened between 1/9/2019 and the end of the Shutdown. We’d really like to give you an end date, but the same person we sent home snagged the crystal ball… so we’re in the dark as to the end of the Shutdown.
Can my brother join and take advantage of the Furlough Loan?
Well, we’re so happy you’re spreading the word about FedChoice! We think we’re great and we love when people share the good news. Your brother can join simply because he is your brother (we encourage you to let family members know about us!). If he can get the Furlough Loan… well, that’s another story. Your brother will need to be impacted by the Shutdown (and we will need to verify that). If he is impacted, go ahead and have him submit an application so we can take a look. We’ll get back to him from there.
How long will these offers be around?
We mentioned that crystal ball earlier, correct? This is another question that we don’t have an answer to at this time. While FedChoice is good at a lot of things (serving the Federal Community, great rates on loans, fabulous customer service) we’re not good at predicting when this Shutdown will end. You can expect these offers to stay in place for a bit after the announced end of the Shutdown - we know things don’t reset back to normal immediately.
What should I pay first?
Well, that’s a question we never want to see. We said this earlier on this page, but we know it's a lot of information and you may not have read through everything. CALL YOUR LENDER. Call your utility company and your insurance company. They can't help you if they don't know what is going on and some companies are willing to work with people impacted by the shutdown! As to who to pay, we’re going to answer it based on conventional wisdom and what we know will have the most lasting impact to your financial picture. Pay your mortgages. Pay your vehicle loan. Pay the utilities and insurances. Pay for food. Pay the lenders who have always stood by your side and helped you out when you needed it (building a relationship with a lender can go a long way) and then figure out what you have left over. Consider cutting out things you don’t need if you can. Look at things you can easily remove – extra cable channels, eating out, shopping, unused gym memberships.
You guys are a bit slower than normal, what's up with that?
It’s gotten busy around FedChoice. Apparently the word is out that we’re here to help so we’ve been talking to way more people, taking many more apps, and bringing in more members than we typically do each day. Which we love. But that does mean we’re tackling more calls, emails, chats and applications. We’re working on bringing on some more help and should be speeding up as we continue along. We want to talk to you and we’re absolutely working to better serve your needs!