INTERVIEW: As shutdown continues, credit unions assist federal workers

Image Courtesy: Northwest Credit Union Association

Listen to KID NewsRadio’s interview with Lynn Heider, spokesperson with the Northwest Credit Union Association

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Many departments and services in the federal government remain shuttered or are operating with employees who aren’t receiving pay for their work as the partial government shutdown continues.

For those families who are facing financial uncertainty while they wait for the government to reopen so they can receive paychecks, credit unions are offering a lifeline.

“Credit unions are offering a lot of wonderful services to help them, including things like short-term loans that are either no interest or low interest,” Lynn Heider, spokesperson with the Northwest Credit Union Association told KID NewsRadio. “They’re offering financial counseling. So, you can sit down with someone at the credit union and talk about all the bills that you have to pay and they can help you make some decisions and find options.”

Heider also said credit unions can also offer options for people who are using credit cards to pay expenses during the shutdown, including offering lower interest credit cards through the organization.

“They also, in many cases, have options where you can defer payments on your loans sometimes for as much as 90 days or even until the shutdown ends,” Heider said. “So, this is something that’ll help families keep food on the table during this difficult shutdown.”

Credit unions stepping up to help people, Heider said, isn’t new or specific to this most recent partial government shutdown. During natural disasters or when employees find themselves jobless after a major company closes, credit unions have offered and continue to offer similar resources.

“They’ve done this for decades,” Heider said. “So, this is why they were able to so quickly step up collectively and help consumers because they already have these programs in place, because time after time, after time when there was a need, there was a credit union stepping up to help somebody.”

With around one million credit union members across the state, Heider said furloughed federal workers who aren’t part of a credit union can easily sign up.

“Go ahead and reach out to a credit union and your community,” Heider said. “Call a couple of them up and find out what your options are because they can usually help you become a member pretty quickly and then they can start to share various options with you that would help you through the furlough.”

Want more information, check out the Northwest Credit Union Associations’ website and their guide to joining a credit union

How to Join a Credit Union

How Do I Join Not all financial institutions are created equally. Like banks, credit unions provide a wide variety of products and services, including savings and checking accounts, online banking, loans, credit, and more. However, unlike banks, credit unions are member-owned.