CFPB Disaster Financial Toolkit

CFPB Disaster Financial Toolkit
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner

As I am writing this post, my family and friends in Florida are preparing for Hurricane Irma. Family and friends in Houston and Beaumont are cleaning up after Hurricane Harvey. Recently I received an email from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) about their Hurricane Harvey Financial Toolkit. It contains some great information on securing your finances and your home after a natural disaster – from hurricanes, to tornadoes in my neck of the woods, to wildfires out west.

hurricaneThe CFPB provides direct links to resources you will need immediately after the disaster. They then list five steps to do next:

  1. Contact your insurance company. Ask for an electronic copy of your policy—receiving physical mail may be difficult. That will help you verify your coverage. If possible, take photos and videos of your damaged property. Documenting damage will help you with your insurance claim.
  2. Register for assistance. Registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov is the quickest way to register for FEMA assistance. If you are unable to access the internet, you can also call at 1-800-621-3362.
  3. Contact your mortgage servicer. Talk to your mortgage lender right away and tell them about your situation. Damage to your home does not eliminate your responsibility to pay your mortgage, however your lender may be willing to work with you given the circumstances.
  4. Contact your credit card companies and other lenders. If your income is interrupted or your expenses go up, and you don’t think you will be able to pay your credit cards or other loans, be sure to contact your lenders as soon as possible. Ask your creditor to work with you.
  5. Contact your utility companies. If your home is damaged to the point you can’t live in it, ask the utility companies to suspend your service. This could help free up money in your budget for other expenses.

The CFPB also provides other great resources and ways to avoid scams. No need for me to reinvent the wheel here, folks. This website has it all in one place.