Hurricane Harvey has already had a tremendous impact on Texas. Part of the impact is the financial stress it has put on families as businesses struggle to restore normalcy. During these difficult times many companies are stepping up to serve customers in this time of need.
To ease the financial burden on borrowers, Lending Club and Prosper have announced special programs to help those affected. Lending Club stated in the below email that approximately 30,000 of their borrowers reside in affected areas. Here is the email that Lending Club investors received on Friday:
Hurricane Harvey is an unprecedented tragedy and our hearts go out to those whose lives have been turned upside down. We wanted to provide you with an estimate on how many LendingClub borrowers could be impacted and let you know what we’re doing to provide relief for them.
Estimated Scope of Impact
We estimate approximately 30,000 LendingClub borrowers are potentially affected by Harvey (based on zip codes identified by FEMA and on the counties declared as in a state of emergency by respective state governors as of August 31, 2017), which amounts to about 2% of LendingClub’s total borrower population. Of potentially affected borrowers, about 2,000 are currently delinquent as of August 31, 2017.
For the vast majority of investors who have diversified portfolios, we expect little to no impact to returns. The affected population is a small portion of our total borrower base of 1.5 million, and we’re committed to keeping borrowers on track.
What We’re Doing for Borrowers
LendingClub believes in doing the right thing for both borrowers and investors. Given the scope of the disaster, we’ve taken several steps in line with guidance from the FDIC to treat borrowers with respect, provide resources, and help them stay on track:
Collections call adjustments. Starting on August 26 and through September 5, internal and agency collections teams stopped making calls to delinquent borrowers in Texas and Louisiana (approximately 6,000 borrowers) as the storm made its way through the area. We will resume calling delinquent borrowers who live outside of affected zip codes in Texas and Louisiana on September 5. We will not resume calling borrowers who live in affected zip codes until September 15. Likewise, we are suppressing direct mail and email collections communications to those same borrowers until September 30.
Late fees. We are not charging late fees for borrowers in affected zip codes starting on August 23 through September 30.
Credit bureau reporting. For borrowers who live in affected zip codes and who become delinquent, we will append a note to our report to credit bureaus that they have been affected by a natural disaster.
Hardship plans. We typically offer hardship plans (where borrowers are allowed to temporarily make interest-only payments to accommodate an unexpected life event) to borrowers when they meet certain eligibility criteria. In response to Harvey, we are relaxing our eligibility criteria for borrowers in affected zip codes. Hardship plans work to protect investor returns as borrowers whose loans may otherwise progress to charge-off status have the opportunity to make interim payments and some portion may revert to current status. Importantly, our teams will follow our standard process, where we offer progressively more relief to borrowers who ask for help, with hardship plans made available only after other options are exhausted.
This is a difficult time for many Americans, and we’re committed to doing what’s necessary to help our customers stay on track while protecting investor returns.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us at 888-596-3159, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. through 5 p.m. PT, or email@example.com.
Prosper, like Lending Club, have also been communicating with investors and are including some similar help for borrowers impacted by Hurricane Harvey. They are waiving late fees and NSF fees including unpaid fees that may have already been applied. They are adjusting payment schedules so borrowers don’t accrue late fees for one month.
Prosper noted that the programs they are putting in place will not have any effect on the total principal and interest payments due to investors, but payments may be delayed. Their team is still monitoring the scope of the impact and will make any necessary changes to the scope and duration of the programs they have put in place.
It’s great to see both Lending Club and Prosper step up to support their borrowers during this difficult time. They have struck a good balance between supporting borrowers and protecting investors. The dedication to better serve their customers will ultimately lead to better customer satisfaction and better payment outcomes for the investors.