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Following a natural disaster, consumers in the disaster area are undoubtedly faced with challenges. After making sure loved ones are safe, attention turns to repairing damages and salvaging belongings. Day-to-day activities are often forgotten or put off. But it’s important to remember there are responsibilities, such as paying bills, which need to be addressed as soon as possible.

To help prevent a disruption of your finances, consumers should prepare:

  • Have copies of important documents, account numbers, and contact information handy. Ideally, these items should already be stored in a safe (preferably fire and water proof) location.
  • Contact your bank, lenders, and creditors as soon as possible. Explain the situation and see what options might exist. Document all conversations, the date, time and the name of the person you spoke with.
  • Obtain a copy of your credit report. You can get a free report each year from the three main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).  In the event negative information is added to your report which you want to contest, it’s good to have a copy of your report pre-disaster.
  • Sign up for automatic billing if possible. In the event of an emergency, automatic monthly billing can ensure bills are being paid, allowing consumers to focus on other concerns.

Consumers have enough to worry about after a disaster. Fees and penalties shouldn’t be one of them.

 

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757 Monday through Friday from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the State’s lemon laws, data breach reporting, and home improvement contractor programs, and the State’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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