Consumer finance companies activate customer assistance initiatives January 17, 2019 Member companies of the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), whether in auto finance or traditional installment lending, are reaching out to customers who are adversely affected by the federal government shutdown, the longest shutdown in U.S. history. They have activated emergency response initiatives including loan extensions, deferrals and fee-free account actions to help their customers during circumstances beyond their control. In addition to direct employees of the federal government across the country, lenders say that non-governmental employee contractors and local business owners are also impacted and suffering as a result of the shutdown. Some companies are treating this situation in the same manner as they would treat customers affected by natural disasters like hurricanes or wild fires. They are offering deferrals, no late fees and special reporting codes to credit bureaus so that the affected customers’ credit report does not show a customer as delinquent. “Bottom line, every customer has a unique financial situation, therefore, we are good at working with customers to create a plan outside of their normal payment schedule, if needed,” said a spokesperson for an auto lender. “We have a lot of experience in dealing with these types of events, and we have learned you just have to talk to the customers and discuss options that fit their needs” Another lender with a segment of its customer base serving in the military said it would restructure loans by offering a modification of terms, extensions or refinancing depending on individual situations.