First Oklahoma Bank taking care of customers during shutdown

    First Oklahoma Bank taking care of customers during shutdown (KTUL)

    First Oklahoma Bank is taking care of its customers who work for the federal government.

    More than 6,400 Oklahomans get paychecks from Uncle Sam, and those who bank with First Oklahoma won’t have to worry about paying their bills.

    The bank is owned by 300 members of our community, so their Chairman and co-CEO said they want to do all they can to ease the financial pain for their neighbors.

    Tom Bennett, Jr. said they don’t want to be a part of a banking public-relations problem that’s been around since the time of Jesus.

    "We understand that 2000 years ago, that bankers were thrown out of the temple for good cause. They had done things that were abusive to the people. We don't want to ever do that," Bennett said.

    Customers with direct-deposit accounts won’t have to do a thing to qualify for help.

    If there's an overdraft, their system will show them that it involves a missing federal check. They’ll then cover the customer's expenses up to the amount of their usual paycheck.

    There are about 38,800 civilian, federal workers in Oklahoma, and about 17 percent of them aren’t being paid.

    The biggest impact is on the people who work for the departments of transportation, the interior and agriculture.

    The key people who deal with the bank's customers said it’s a sad situation.

    Laurie Winslow told us, "It’s hard to even fathom, because many of us depend on a paycheck, and if you don’t get that paycheck. what do you do?"

    The bank’s commitment has gotten the attention of federal banking officials because of the potential pressure on the bank’s funds, but Bennett said if the shutdown continues, they’ll deal with that in a couple of months.

    He said the federal workers aren’t to blame for what’s happening, and he thinks they’ll be OK treating people the right way.

    He also hopes it’s part of a growing trend.

    "We encourage all businesses to evaluate their customer bases that may be negatively impacted by this government shutdown and say, what could we do? What could we do to be

    helpful to our neighbors?" Bennett said.

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