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Financial Service Center Industry Aids Katrina Victims
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Florida-based Amscot Financial is assisting Hurricane Katrina evacuees by cashing at no charge checks from any official aid agency or non-profit agency involved in hurricane relief efforts


FISCA was founded in 1986
The industry cashes 180 million checks annually, with an aggregate face value of $55 billion.

Members of the Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA) are raising funds and shipping supplies to devastated areas of the Gulf Coast to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina even as dozens of financial service centers remain closed because of damage caused by the storm.

FiSCA members are providing aid in a number of ways. Programs include:

-- PLS Financial Services, with locations in Mississippi and Alabama, has pledged $40,000 to hurricane relief efforts. PLS is based in Illinois and operates Payday Loan Store locations in Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin and PLS Check Cashers locations in Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, New York, Texas and Wisconsin. The company, which has over 200 locations, is collecting blankets, pillows, toiletries, hygiene products, clothing, baby products and small toys and arranging for shipping to refugees. Additionally, PLS Check Cashers stores in Texas are serving as American Red Cross/Western Union emergency cash distribution points for displaced victims of the storm. PLS Financial Services has pledged to continue to pay employees of closed stores in the affected areas until the company's stores reopen.

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-- ACE Cash Express, which has 20 locations in the New Orleans area, has made a $25,000 donation to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina Relief and has established a $25,000 fund to assist ACE associates and their families in the region hit by the storm. The company is also collecting cash donations from employees and customers to be sent directly to the American Red Cross.

-- FastBucks, a Dallas-based chain of 68 payday advance stores, has pledged to match customer and employee donations collected at its locations up to $25,000 and donate the funds to the Salvation Army.

-- Florida-based Amscot Financial is assisting Hurricane Katrina evacuees by cashing at no charge checks from any official aid agency or non-profit agency involved in hurricane relief efforts. Amscot Financial also contributing a total of $20,000 in support of their hurricane relief efforts -- $10,000 apiece to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

-- Philadelphia-based United Financial Services Group is raising funds for the American Red Cross by asking customers at 145 United Check Cashing Centers locations in 16 states to donate change from check cashing transactions. United Financial will match a percentage of the funds collected at franchisee locations.

-- Pay-o-matic, which has more than 100 locations in New York City, the lower Hudson Valley and Long Island, has formed a partnership with Western Union to collect customer financial donations and send them directly to the American Red Cross. Customers have a choice of having a money order issued to the American Red Cross or using Western Union's Quick Collect product to have funds sent to the charity. Both services are free of charge for donations made to the American Red Cross. Pay-o-matic has also launched a food and clothing drive to aid victims and has made arrangements to ship items collected to refugees.

-- Cash Connection in Michigan is making a $5,000 donation to the American Red Cross for use in aiding displaced persons in shelters in Shreveport, Louisiana, where hundreds of Gulf Coast residents went to get out of the direct path of the storm.

-- FiSCA is also asking member companies to review suggestions made by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors on ways to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. To the extent possible and where consistent with safe and sound business practices, such actions may include: Waiving ATM fees, increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits, allowing loan customers to defer or skip some payments and delaying delinquency notices to the credit bureaus.


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