A weather event or disaster may have forced you to leave your home without everyday essentials like your ID, cash, and credit and debit cards. Here are some ideas to help you manage as you get on the road to recovery after a natural disaster.
The first steps you take after a disaster are crucial to your recovery. To protect your information and finances as you focus on rebuilding, start here.
- Find out if your home, health, or other insurance policies will pay for temporary shelter, clothing, and other items.
- Never pay to get government assistance. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds or a grant, it’s a scam. Don’t pay; report them.
- Ask your insurance company about the next steps in assessing any damage to your home, belongings, or business.
- Never pay for repairs in full until the work is completed, and you’re satisfied with the job. Avoid scammers who show up claiming to offer recovery services, but demand cash or advance payments.
- Read about other disaster-related scams to avoid losing money that could help you rebuild.
In the aftermath of a disaster, having access to your money and benefits is crucial to help you recover. Take these steps to help you reorganize and get control of your finances.
- Contact the card issuer if your credit, ATM, or debit cards are lost or stolen. Report the loss and get replacements.
- Stay in touch with your employer. If your work is closed, or if you can’t go to work, ask if you can keep getting your paycheck and health insurance, and for how long.
- Reach the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 if you get monthly benefits, or the Veterans Benefits Administration at 1-800-827-1000 if you’re a veteran or a relative who gets VA benefits. Find out how they can make your benefits available if you’re displaced.
- Contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-4-USA-DOL to connect with state and local government agencies that issue unemployment insurance and other assistance if you’re out of work.
Your credit impacts your ability to get a loan, insurance, a job, and buy or lease a car. After a disaster, maintaining and having access to your credit will help you recover and rebuild. To try to be sure your credit doesn’t suffer:
- Get your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. This is especially important if you’ve lost your financial records and need help identifying your creditors.
- Contact creditors, landlords, and utilities right away. Explain how the weather emergency has affected your finances and ask if they might help. In times of disaster, they may be willing to defer your payments or offer extended repayment plans, extend grace periods, waive late fees, raise your credit limit, or postpone collection, repossessions, and foreclosures.
If you were displaced by a disaster or had to evacuate, you’ll need to replace any damaged or lost legal documents. Unsure of where to go for what? This chart will get you started.
Deeds and recorded real estate documents
County Recorder of Deeds
Mortgages and other credit documents
Lender or mortgage servicer
Landlord or financial company
Insurance company or agent
The attorney who prepared them
Checks, savings documents, or investment materials
Bank, credit union, investment company, or your broker
Car title or driver’s license
Your state Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State
Vital Statistics Office in state where you were born
|Social Security card
|Local Social Security Administration Office
|IRS or tax office in your state
|Other important documents, like contracts or divorce judgments
|Your personal attorney or the court