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Asking for help

You have the right to ask for help with bills, fees, paperwork, and more

Customer service should be responsive to your needs

Financial services companies, like banks, credit card companies, and other lenders, are expected to do their best to help people affected by a major disaster or emergency. This means they should have customer service available to respond to your issues. Ideally, the company would make customer service available in your preferred language.

If you or your property is affected by a disaster or emergency, you can contact your financial services company and ask for help. You might ask for:

  • Forbearance or adjusted repayment schedules on your loans or debts, along with clear explanations of what you are being offered
  • A way to refinance your existing debts, or new loans with terms that are more realistic for you
  • Reduced or waived fees and charges, like overdraft fees, ATM fees, or late fees
  • Flexibility on paperwork required for loans or payment assistance, if you cannot locate or access documents because of the event
  • Increase in the amount you are allowed to withdraw in cash from an ATM

Quicker paperwork for loans on your home

Generally, you receive appraisals and valuations of your property within three days before you close on a loan (or promptly after the appraisal is completed). In a disaster or emergency situation, you might agree to be more flexible about this requirement, as long as you receive the documents before the closing. This might make it quicker to close on a loan and give you access to the loaned money.

Receiving mortgage help even if your application is missing or incomplete

Generally, your application for loss mitigation on a mortgage must be complete before your lender considers it. But in an emergency or disaster situation, completing this application might be difficult. Your lender might be able to offer you options for your mortgage based on an incomplete application or if information is missing—or even before you submit an application.

Timing flexibility on closing paperwork

Generally, when you are closing on a home loan, you receive a Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure on a set schedule, determined by regulations. Usually you receive a Loan Estimate no later than seven days before closing, and a Closing Disclosure no later than three days before closing. But in the event of a bona fide personal financial emergency, your lender might agree to go ahead with the closing on a different timetable, so that you can close on the loan and receive the money ahead of the normal schedule. You still need to receive the documents, but you can decide to change the timing if it helps you with your emergency situation.