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Protecting Your Credit When Natural Disasters Hits

In recent weeks the United States has been hit with several natural disasters, leaving Americans uprooted from their homes and their employment. Texas and Florida are dealing with the aftermath of flood and rain waters from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, while the Western United States is dealing with the complete opposite dry and extreme conditions causing widespread forest fires.

In the wake of a natural disaster such as the recent hurricanes and wildfires, you may be wondering:

    • What if I use my credit cards or max them out?
    • What If I miss a payment?

What if I use my credit or max out my credit cards?

Rebuilding your home or life after a natural disaster can be overwhelming mentally and financially. Natural disasters like the recent events in the United States will require many Americans to start over completely, even with insurance money, government grants and any nest egg you have built you may still need to use your credit cards. We do know that the area we reside is not part of what makes up your FICO credit score, but using your cards and or maxing them out may affect your FICO Score. One of the first things you should do is pull your credit report, pulling your credit report will give you a complete picture of your credit profile at the time the natural disaster hit.

What If I Miss A Payment?

Missing just one payment could damage your credit significantly and could lead to not being about to obtain credit when it is most needed. If your house has was destroyed, make sure you cut off costly services, such as Wi-Fi and cable or electricity. This would be a perfect time to look at your budget and create a post-disaster budget; this budget should be a bare-bones budget. Once you created your budget and determined the amount, you can pay each creditor, call each creditor and discuss your options.  Depending on the credit card company and their situation they may offer you long-term or short-term options, may waive late fees or offer assistance programs.

A Few Companies That Are Helping

If you are your family or friends have been affected by a natural disaster here are a few companies that have resources for you. The information below is directly from the companies listed web pages, please visit the links to see more information.

Wells Fargo 1-800-869-3557

We know this can be a stressful time financially, so we are committed to giving affected customers additional support. Here are the ways we’re proactively helping customers in FEMA-declared areas (customers impacted by the hurricanes outside these areas are also encouraged to contact us):

  • Reversing certain fees — such as late fees — for our lending products, including credit cards, auto loans, personal loans, and lines of credit.
  • Waiving Wells Fargo fees for customers using non-Wells Fargo ATMs.
  • For Credit Card customers, providing payment relief and suppressing any negative credit bureau reporting for 90 days.

Citi Cards 1-800-950-5114

Customers in FEMA-designated disaster areas may be eligible for assistance such as:

  • Automatic waiver or refund of late fees on credit cards;
  • Automatic waiver of monthly service fees on Citibank deposit accounts;
  • Automatic waiver or refund of late fees on personal loans and lines of credit;
  • Deferred minimum payments on credit cards;
  • Emergency credit line increases;
  • Waived early withdrawal penalties on CDs and wire transfer fees;
  • Waived late fees for September mortgage payments; and
  • Mortgage payment forbearance programs.

Chase Home Lending 1-888-356-0023

First, for all customers who live in a FEMA-designated individual assistance disaster area, we’ll pause the obligation to make mortgage and home equity payments for 90 days from when the hurricane first hit (a 90-day grace period).

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