Disaster

California’s Carr Fire has become the 7th most destructive fire in the state’s history, and has burned over 100,000 acres. The fire began July 23 and is located north of Sacramento, in Redding, CA. The fire has already displaced 38,000 people, damaged hundreds of homes & other structures, and it is not yet contained.


→ To help, text CARRFIRE to 91999 to donate, or visit United Way of Northern California
→ To see if a family member in the area has registered as safe, visit: The American Red Cross Safe and Well Website

 

 

The 2017 Hurricanes & Earthquake continue to affect our nation & neighbors in many ways. Here are some ways that you can help and information on long term case management for Texans:


→ Donate money directly to affected areas through United Way Worldwide Hurricane & Earthquake Recovery Funds
→ Long term case management through Project Comeback: Texas (NVOAD)

 

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shared this blog about how to protect yourself financially following a disaster for those affected by the hurricanes of 2017. However, the information applies to anyone affected by any disaster. Below is a synopsis, but the link contains the full information.

 

When a catastrophe like a hurricane or earthquake happens, your world can be turned upside down. During these tough times, it may be difficult to know who to trust and where to look for guidance and assistance, as well as what financial steps to take as you begin recovering. These are a few organizations that can help immediately after a natural disaster:

 

Once your most urgent needs are addressed:

1. Contact your insurance company.
2. Register for assistance.
3. Contact your mortgage servicer.
4. Contact your credit card companies and other lenders.
5. Contact your utility companies. 

After contacting the companies related to your most urgent financial needs, take a look at your bills and set priorities-including your mortgage, rent, and insurance payments. Given the countless people experiencing distress from the flooding, contacting your creditors may be difficult. Be persistent and make every effort to reach them. 

 

Additional resources

  • Forbearance. Depending upon the type of loan you have, your lender may be willing to temporarily reduce or suspend your payments; this is referred to as forbearance. To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) . If you have student loans, ask your servicer if you qualify for a temporary forbearance. Federal student loan borrowers may be eligible for up to three months of forbearance .
  • Insurance settlement. This quick guide will provide you with some of the basics about how an insurance settlement works. Typically, your mortgage servicer will release a portion of the settlement money before work begins so you can hire a contractor. When the work is halfway finished, the servicer will typically release more money. The rest will be released once the job is finished and the home passes inspection.
  • How to choose a contractor. Read our tips to consider when evaluating contractors to help fix or rebuild your home after a disaster.

 

Warning: Be aware of scams

During and after disasters there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. To avoid scams, you need to ask lots of questions. If the person trying to sell you a product or service can't or won't answer your questions, this is a red flag that you might want to look for someone else to do business with.

Watch out for:

  • People who want you to pay up-front fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans.
  • Contractors selling repairs door-to-door, especially when they ask to receive payment up front or offer deep discounts.
  • Con artists posing as government employees, insurance adjusters, law enforcement officials, or bank employees. Never give out personal information to someone you don't know.
  • Fake charities. Normally, legitimate organizations do not have similar names to government agencies or other charities; so if they do, it may be a scam. Never give out donations over the phone.
  • Limited time offers. Anyone who offers you something and tells you that it is for a very limited time may be trying to pressure you into something that you could later regret. You should never be pressured to make a decision on the spot or to sign anything without having enough time to review it. Take your time, read and understand anything presented to you, and ask a trusted friend, relative, or attorney before acting.  

 

Starting over requires a lot of hard choices. If you have been affected by disaster and want to make sure your financial records are secure, here is a checklist  to help you consolidate all the information you need-including account numbers, personal records and financial records. Being prepared and knowing how to protect yourself can help you avoid scams and get back on your feet faster.

Find more information on how the Bureau encourages financial institutions to assist consumers after an emergency or natural disaster.

If you're having trouble with a financial product, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).