In the midst of a record number of foreclosures, inattentive banks riddled with an ever-growing wave of scandal and a widely held mistrust of the financial industry, Raleigh based State Employees Credit Union has won major kudos from customers all across the state for their handling of homeowners’ struggles throughout the recession.
While foreclosure assistance programs run by global banks and even the federal government failed to adequately assist the majority of those in trouble, the credit union was creating a proactive strategy to address the needs of the financially pained early and often. It instituted a plan that has staff members taking note of any irregularities that surface on customer accounts and then quickly addressing the issue.
So far, the program has helped close to 7,000 members.
Typically, banks have gone public saying they are open to helping people if they only call and communicate an issue. Well, why can’t the bank call the customer when a payment doesn’t arrive? One would think they would be attentive to not getting their money. Perhaps, the birth of an entire industry built around foreclosure has ensured banks of new source of revenue. So why not let it happen?
In a December News & Observer article, Melissa Kerley, a financial education specialist at Local Government Federal Credit Union, which has implemented a similar assistance program, mentioned that early contact is the best way to alleviate future problems.
The benchmark for notification was the first instance of being 30 days late on a mortgage payment, at which point staff members would explain the details of their available mortgage assistance program. And this one actually works.
Currently, the State Employees Credit Union has a forelcosure rate only slightly higher than what it was even before the recession, when things were flying. Given the state of most lending organizations, that’s a remarkable figure. However, it does handle only 1.6 million members. Nevertheless, the point is to take care of their customers. And they’re doing it.
Mortgage assistance programs, especially the government’s HAMP initiative, have been plagued by cumbersome paperwork and ill-prepared staff members unable to clearly communicate even the most basic details or provide accurate time lines. Additionally, few adjustments resulted in permanent assistance.
Things became so difficult relative to the communication of information to customers that state banking regulators actually had to create legislation that mandated mortgage assistance industry personnel now speak clearly and accurately when explaining critical program information.
Even though the SECU’s effort is similar in nature to what other banks and Washington rolled out, the difference in performance is that it actually delivers on its promises. Customers are greeted with well-trained, informed staff that are well managed. Plus, the program has buy in from the top down.
The SECU also benefits from not having to please shareholders and far-flung investors, stakeholders and partners concerned more about the banks’ bottom line than its customers’.
Foreclosure is often a sign of serious personal financial collapse. While not every case results in a future bankruptcy filing, there is certainly a connection. Like the SECU’s effort, bankruptcy can be made substantially more effective if addressed early.
If you are worried about your mortgage and not a member of a helpful institution like those mentioned in this post, give us a call. Bankruptcy can help you save your home, get rid of your unsecured debt, and put you back in control of you family's future.