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How Banks Are Helping Furloughed Workers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With no end in sight to the government shutdown, banks have begun reaching out to an estimated 800,000 furloughed U.S. government employees who have been.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM - Get Report) says it has a plan in place through Oct. 31 that will help government employees out of work until the shutdown is lifted.

The bank has provided a special phone help line (1-888-356-0023) and has announced it will waive checking and saving account fees that might normally be triggered by low account balances, debit card overcharges and bounced checks.

Chase also announced it won't charge any late payment fees on consumer loan payments for such things as mortgage, home-equity, auto loan and credit card payments.

"This is a difficult and stressful situation for these government workers facing a disruption in pay, and we're here to try to help," says Barry Sommers, CEO of consumer banking at Chase. "We all hope this will be resolved soon."

Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Bank (CIZN - Get Report) is offering similar services. Federal government employees have access to a special program running from Tuesday through Nov. 4 or until the shutdown is over.

The bank is offering rebates on checking and savings accounts and on credit card fees. Citizens Bank is also making it easier for customers to access their certificate of deposit accounts without fee penalties and will provide special help to customers struggling with loan payments.

"Because everyone's situation is different, we encourage customers to call or visit us so that we can design an assistance package that best meets their needs," says Brad Conner, vice chairman for consumer banking at RBS Citizens Financial Group. Bank customers affected by the shutdown are encouraged to call the bank's help line at 1-800-922-9999. Customers at Citizens' affiliate bank should call 1-877-242-7837.

TD Bank (TD - Get Report) is going a bit further, with a new program that allows furloughed customers to access up to $1,000 from their account with overdraft fees.

The bank is also waiving fees on non-bank ATM fees, balance inquiry fees and monthly account fees. Credit card customers can have late payment fees refunded by calling 1-888-561-8861 and get help with late mortgage payments by calling 1-800-742-2651.

TD Banks says its furloughed customer help program runs until Nov. 2. You'll need proof of employment to access the special services.

These three banks aren't alone. Most big banks are offering special help for government employees, and chances are your local, smaller banks will do the same if you pick up the phone and call.

It's good, loyalty-building business for banks and a helping hand for customers who are out of work. The situation is far from perfect, but that's a rare win-win.

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