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America Supports You: Bank Offers Hotline for Deployed Troops

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2005 – Servicemembers stationed or deployed overseas have a new resource for solving financial problems. JPMorgan Chase and Co. has launched a telephone hotline for its military customers overseas.

"We initiated this special hotline to help the men and women in our military who are serving around the world," said Rick Lazio, global head of government relations and public policy for JPMorgan Chase and Co.

This hotline provides more expedited service than the bank's regular call centers, said L. Thomas Block, the company's senior vice president of government affairs. "We're very proud of our telephone centers, but we know that, with the different multiple options you have to do and everything else, it can be frustrating, especially if you're calling from overseas," Block said.

The hotline was launched in May and is available for any type of problem servicemembers may encounter with their Chase or Bank One accounts, credit cards, or home or automobile financing, Block said.

A sudden deployment can bring up a lot of financial issues, he said, and servicemembers often have other things to worry about. "If you're worried about bigger problems because you've just been posted to Iraq or Afghanistan, we don't want this to be one of the problems you're spending any time thinking about," he said.

To ensure quality service, the hotline is manned by an escalated service team made up of long-term bankers with expertise in different areas, said Patty Baker, manager of the executive office in charge of the call center. These experts are able to walk customers through their problems and ask the right questions so the calls are as short as possible and the right facts are gathered, she said.

Another benefit of this hotline is the ability of the servicemember to follow up directly on the problem, Baker said. Also, the bank keeps a database of calls so they can report on what's been done, she said.

A little more than 100 people have used the hotline so far, Block said, and almost all of their issues were resolved. Often, built-up fees are eliminated for servicemembers whose deployments caused delayed payments, he said.

"We wanted to create something that allows us to expedite the considerations and, on the margin, give the benefit of the doubt to the person who's serving in the armed forces," he said.

The hotline will be available as long as it is needed, Block said Right now it is definitely needed, given the pace of deployments, he said.

To access the hotline from the U.S., servicemembers can call (800) 654-7998 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. eastern time Monday through Friday. From overseas, servicemembers can call collect (713) 262-1960. The call center isn't manned 24 hours a day, but troops can leave a message and a bank representative will get back to them by phone or e-mail, Block said.

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