Protecting your finances
Keep an eye on your credit
After a natural disaster or emergency, you may find yourself facing unexpected issues with your credit reports or scores.
For example, arrangements you make with lenders or credit card companies to make your payments more affordable may not be listed accurately on your credit report. If the company was also affected by the event, it may have trouble with its own records and reports.
. And until the end of 2026, you can get an additional six free credit reports every 12 months from Equifax. When you visit the site, you may see steps to view more frequently updated reports online. This means that you have opportunities to request reports, monitor your credit, and ask for any errors to be corrected. You can request a copy of your credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.
You also have the right to request reports from other specialty consumer reporting companies. As you recover from the emergency, you might find issues with your tenant screening reports, bank or checking accounts, or personal property insurance reports. .
Avoiding fraud and scams
While many people pull together during times of crisis, there is also an increased risk for scams and fraud. To avoid scams after a natural disaster or emergency, you need to ask lots of questions to help you determine if something is too good to be true.
Red flags to watch out for:
- People who want you to pay up-front fees to help you claim services, benefits, or get loans.
- Contractors selling repairs door-to-door, especially when they ask to receive payment up front or offer deep discounts.
- Con artists posing as government employees, insurance adjusters, law enforcement officials, or bank employees. It is easy to fake credibility and uniforms, so do not give out personal information to people you don’t know. Government employees will never charge to help you get a benefit or service and will never ask for payment or financial information.
- Limited time offers - anyone who offers you something and tells you that it is for a very limited time may be trying to pressure you into something that you could later regret. You should never be pressured to decide on the spot or to sign anything without having enough time to review it. Take your time reading and understanding anything presented to you. And ask a trusted friend, relative, or attorney before acting.
If a person trying to sell you a product or service can’t or won’t answer your questions, this is a red flag that you might want to look for someone else to do business with. If you're having trouble with a financial product or service, you can submit a complaint online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
Beware of charity scams
Scammers use natural disasters and emergencies as opportunities to prey on those in need or those seeking to help others. A common scam during a natural disaster is a charity scam, where a fake organization is created to con people into donating money.
If you’re contributing to a disaster relief effort, here are a few tips to ensure your money is getting to the right organization.
- Beware of unsolicited asks for your personal or financial information – For example, if you receive a call or email asking for payment on a donation pledge you don’t remember making, hang up the phone and don’t give out your credit card number.
- Look up the organization through a trusted third-party source – Before you donate, research the charity through a valid third-party resource, such as guidestar.org, give.org, charitynavigator.org, or your local Better Business Bureau.
- If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t contribute – If you’re not sure about a donation request or organization, trust your instincts.