CONCORD, N.H. — With the coronavirus pandemic forcing many New Hampshire businesses to temporarily close, banks in this state are offering to help them through the crisis.

Banks offer hardship programs and can waive certain fees, defer loan payments, offer forbearance, provide temporary credit lines, modify loans, help customers use mobile and digital banking platforms, alert customers to scams related to the coronavirus and provide safe services by expanding drive-through and ATM operations, according to Kristy Merrill, president of the New Hampshire Bankers Association.

Scott Cote, president and chief executive officer of Pentucket Bank, which operates full service branches in Salem and Hampstead, said they are waiving late fees on loans for borrowers affected by the pandemic.

Overdraft fees for certain checking accounts of customers who have been hit hard by the crisis are also being excused, he added.

Pentucket Bank is deferring loan payments for up to 90 days for those who request this help, he said. His bank has already negotiated "several loan modifications."

"We have a critical role to play in providing essential services," Cote said. Pentucket Bank is headquartered in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

"We work on both side of the border," he said. Regarding his bank's efforts to keep COVID-19 in check, Cote said the lobbies of all branches are closed. Customers can still use the drive-thrus to deposit and withdraw money, he noted.

Pentucket Bank can also perform many transactions online or over the phone.

Thirty-seven banks are members of the New Hampshire Bankers Association. Merrill said Granite State banks are "well capitalized and well-positioned" to help businesses during the public health crisis.

“Bankers in New Hampshire are working overtime to help businesses that are struggling right now," Merrill said. "Your banker may be part of the solution to help get your small business through these challenging times through various financial tools, programs or just flexibility in payment structure. They stand ready to help you, so please contact them soon about financial challenges you may be facing as a result of COVID-19. Your local banker lives and works in your community and has first-hand knowledge of the challenges and may be able to help.”

Members of the New Hampshire Bankers Association include the Salem Co-operative, Pentucket, Haverhill and Enterprise banks. The association works with the Small Business Administration, the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center and the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority as part of its efforts to help support small businesses, Merrill said.

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