You have taken every measure to protect your home in the event of a hurricane, but what have you done to protect your finances? Here are some financial tips for hurricane preparation:
Establish a banking relationship that enables you to have access to your money when you need it most. Make sure your bank offers these amenities:
- Online Banking with Bill Pay – This service enables you to access your accounts for balance inquiry, transfer funds, stop payments and pay bills anytime, anywhere.
- Telephone Banking – Ask if your bank offers telephone banking and make sure you understand how to use it prior to an emergency. If you have to relocate and do not have access to the internet but have phone service you can access your account for balance inquiry, transfer funds, stop payment, etc.
- E-Statements – Don’t be waiting for your statements to arrive in the mail. Even more important; don’t have your bank statements sitting in your mailbox while you have evacuated your home or the area!
- Debit Cards – Easy access to cash wherever you go!
- Overdraft protection – Nice to have some peace of mind.
- Direct Deposit – Get your money fast; no waiting; no hassles (even if you are out of town)
- Sign up for these services and use them to become familiar with them and to ensure you have access.
- Establish direct deposit with your employer now as well as any other source of payments coming to you
- Prepare a list of your bank’s phone numbers and individual contacts in case your local branch is not open. Include the bank’s website address so you can check its home page for any disaster updates.
Items to prepare and place in waterproof plastic, self-sealing bag(s)
- Prepare a list of your account numbers with your login instructions and passwords, but keep your passwords separate from account numbers.
- Keep originals of your important documents and papers in a safe deposit box at your bank. Make copies of everything and safely store the papers at home inside a waterproof, plastic, self-sealing bag.
- Make a list of your credit card numbers and the contact information for each of them in case they are lost or stolen and you need to contact the card company. Consider an identity theft solution service that will provide an extra layer of coverage as well as assist you in the event your cards are stolen. Ask your bank about this service.
- Beginning now, consistently shred documents or paper items that may contain confidential information that you do not need to maintain and you would not want left open to the public if your home is damaged during a disaster.
- Prepare a detailed evacuation plan. You can get guidance for a plan by visiting www.floridadisaster.org or calling Florida Division of Emergency Management at (850) 413-9969.
- Once you have determined the location in which you plan to evacuate this will help you determine the amount of cash you need to withdraw from your bank account prior to the hurricane affecting your area. Remember, cash is king in emergency situations. Share your evacuation plans with relatives or friends that need to know.
- Do not put all of your cash in one place, but make sure it is with you at all times.
- Do not give anyone your personal information such as Social Security Number, Bank Account Numbers or balances, Credit Card Numbers, Debit Card Numbers or PINs.
You can always visit www.FDIC.gov for information about any bank that is FDIC insured. Their web site also posts updates on any bank closings due to disaster.
Anne V. Lee, First Bank Retail Banking President