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Post date: January 29 2015

A.G. Schneiderman Calls For Suspension Of Late Fees For Long Island After Winter Storm Juno

A.G. Urges Bank, Mortgage Providers And Utilities To Consider Storm’s Financial Toll And Suspension Of Postal Service On Long Island

Schneiderman: Suspending Late Fees Is The Right Thing To Do To Get Struggling Families, Residents, And Businesses Back On Their Feet

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he has sent letters to 62 banks, mortgage providers, and utility companies calling for the temporary suspension of late fees for customers in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. This week’s winter storm led to the interruption in delivery by the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday, which has created a potential backlog in delivering bills and credit card statements. In addition, Long Islanders will likely face high costs while recovering from the storm’s damage. Attorney General Schneiderman is urging these companies to ensure consumers and businesses in this region are not held financially accountable for the effects of a massive storm outside of their control.

“As Long Island continues to dig out, suspending late fees is the right thing to do to get struggling families, residents, and businesses back on their feet,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Time and time again, New Yorkers have shown how coming together to assist other communities during emergencies can lead to an effective and quick recovery. I hope these companies will join us in supporting their Long Island customers, who have just suffered through a harsh winter storm.”

In his letter, the Attorney General strongly encouraged payment servicers, venders, merchants, utilities, banks, and others to extend a period of forbearance to those effected by the storm on Long Island, who suffered the greatest damage and most severe impact to basic services. For instance, the storm caused postal delivery to grind to a halt on Tuesday, making it impossible for many New Yorkers to pay bills for necessities such as utilities and payments for cars and mortgages. The late payment of bills could result in fees and harm to consumers’ credit ratings.

In addition, the Attorney General wrote that Long Islanders “need a grace period for making their bill and mortgage payments,” as a result of the financial impact of the storm. Many in the region were forced to use vacation and sick leave to make up for lost time at work, and potentially face unexpected costs related to home repairs, digging out and child care. In the midst of these added expenses, the closure of banking facilities meant many workers could not deposit their paychecks or conduct routine financial transactions.

The letter is included in full below:

As all New Yorkers are aware, on January 26th, Long Island and other parts of New York were hit by one of the harshest winter storm in decades. This storm led to untold costs in lost business and snarled infrastructure. In the aftermath of the storm, Long Island will need to deal with a massive cleanup. The storm even resulted in the temporary suspension of mail service in the region.

The costs of recovering from the damage of the storm will likely continue to mount. And, even though the snow is no longer falling, the financial impact of this storm is still being felt by many working families. New Yorkers will need time to recover from hours missed at their jobs, the costs of digging out, the added burden of child care, and the need to use scarce vacation and sick leave to make up for lost time at work.

But, there is a way for you to help. Many New Yorkers rely on the mail to receive bills and paychecks and to send payments. The storm caused basic services like banking and postal delivery to grind to a halt, making it impossible for many New Yorkers to pay bills for necessities such as utilities and payments for cars and mortgages. The suspension of mail service will likely result in a backlog in delivery and sorting, and the closure of banking facilities meant many workers could not deposit their paychecks or conduct routine financial transactions.

With this in mind, I am strongly urging payment servicers, venders, merchants, utilities, banks, and others to extend a period of forbearance to those affected by the storm. As they continue to dig out and recover from the damage, residents need a grace period for making their bill and mortgage payments. An extension of time for payment, along with a temporary reprieve from late fees and penalties will help the region to effectively recover from the ravages of the storm. Both businesses and working families will benefit from this accommodation. Families should not be held financially accountable for the effects of a massive storm outside of their control.

These steps will ease both businesses’ and residents’ recovery from this devastating storm. I am asking for your assistance. Suspending late fees for people affected by the storm is the right thing to do to get the region’s families, residents, and businesses back on their feet.

Sincerely,

Eric T. Schneiderman