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AG Shapiro launches program to provide financial relief

PNC offering 90-day grace on loans, fees

April 1, 2020 Digital Media Exclusive

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Josh Shapiro

In partnership with at least one local bank, Attorney General Josh Shapiro launched a program designed to give Pennsylvanians some relief during the coronavirus pandemic.

The PA CARE Package, an initiative started Monday, complements the federal CARES Act and is aimed at alleviating residents' financial hardships during the pandemic.

A voluntary program, the package is a partnership with banks and other financial institutions.

To participate in the program, the institutions must offer 90-day grace periods for mortgages and consumer loans like auto loans; provide a 90-day window for relief for overdraft fees, late fees and other charges; make available expanded loans for medium and small businesses; not foreclose, evict or repossess for 60 days; and not report consumer loan relief as an adverse item on credit reports.

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Shapiro's office said PNC, the largest bank in the commonwealth, has agreed to participate in the program. Customers can find information about the bank's relief by clicking the “Important Coronavirus Update” banner on the PNC website or by calling the typical customer service number.

A spokesman for the Attorney General's office said banks are participating because they “believe it's in the best interests of their customers and communities” and will not receive any benefit from their voluntary participation.

“We are going to beat this crisis, but to do so Pennsylvanians and our small businesses need to know their rights and utilize the resources available to them during this time of need,” Shapiro said in a Monday statement. “Pennsylvanians need to stay focused on keeping their families safe and healthy, and these efforts by banks and financial institutions will provide important relief.”

“We are actively working with those affected, providing a variety of solutions that make the most sense for meeting their particular needs. In addition, we are activating the emergency relief programs included in the recently enacted federal CARES Act,” William Demchak, PNC chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “Now more than ever, it is critical that we come together to support our customers, one another and the communities we serve.

The state initiative expands on the recently-passed federal coronavirus relief bill, which provides some financial relief to individuals and small and large businesses. Under that law, individuals who pay taxes will receive a direct deposit of up to $1,200, plus $500 per child; unemployment benefits are extended through Dec. 31; and unemployed workers will receive an additional $600 a week on top of state unemployment insurance for four months.

The PA CARE Package comes during a time of staggering unemployment. More than 890,000 Pennsylvania workers — roughly 13.5 percent of the state's workforce — have filed for unemployment compensation since March 15, shattering the previous record of 168,159 first-time claims in a month, set in January 2010 during the financial crisis.

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Alex Weidenhof

Alex Weidenhof