On September 5, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published a blog post regarding what to do in the event of a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey. The CFPB recommends that affected consumers consolidate their financial information by using a checklist and take the following steps after their most urgent needs (like food and safety) have been met:
- start the claims process by calling the insurance company;
- register for FEMA assistance;
- contact their mortgage servicer and tell them about the situation, including damage to the home;
- contact their credit card company and any other creditors to explain the situation before the next payment is due; and
- contact utility companies to suspend service if the home is too damaged to live in.
The CFPB also provides a number of resources to assist consumers:
- The link to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website
- The link to the Red Cross and its disaster relief options
- A link to the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP), which provides disaster assistance services
- Information on forbearance options, including programs available through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Education
- A guide regarding insurance settlement
- Tips on how to choose a contractor
Finally, the CFPB warns consumer of the increased risk of fraud and provides tips on how to avoid common scams, such as fake charities and contractors selling repairs door-to-door.