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Community banks make recovering from a disaster much easier

Oct. 3, 2017 at midnight

Community banks make recovering from a disaster much easier

Once you’ve been a victim of a natural disaster like the hurricanes that have ravaged much of the south over the past few weeks, you don’t want to fall prey to fraudulent disaster relief. Surprisingly, where you choose to do your banking can have a huge impact on how well and how quickly you bounce back. Locally owned community banks have the advantage of knowing the area and the businesses that can make or break your recovery plan. Here are just a few ways in which community banks can serve as a vital recovery resource for clients – as well as how to avoid some sadly prevalent scams:

Identifying legitimate contractors

After a disaster, recovery companies flock to affected areas. In fact, the problem is so prevalent that after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Justice created the National Center for Disaster Fraud to deal with the issue. Community banks can help you avoid fraudulent contractors by recommending local firms they have dealt with over the years that have a track record of completing rebuilding projects successfully.

How can you protect yourself and your family from fraudulent contractors?

  • First, get recommendations from a trusted source like your local bank.
  • Then, check with local officials to see which types of contractors need to be licensed in your area, and make certain that the contractor you are considering has the appropriate licenses, insurance and credentials. (Ask them for license numbers and policies so you have a record of them in case of a dispute.)
  • Next, check their references and ask your neighbors what they are paying for similar work to be sure their pricing is in line.
  • Get a written estimate and contract to ensure that the work you contract for is what you will receive.
  • Finally, always pay with a credit card or check – never cash – so you can cancel a payment or dispute a charge if the need arises.

Providing deposit services for insurance proceeds

Aside from the physical recovery process of construction, there are other ways in which local banks can assist in rebuilding your life. While securing cash is always a priority, it's of even greater importance in a recovery zone where looting can be a concern. Community banks provide basic banking services when and where you need them. Since they are locally run, they are more likely to be up and running before their national counterparts.

Offering advice to customers seeking other financial assistance

Community banks excel at disaster relief because they know local businesses and are in touch with area government resources. That knowledge allows them to connect you with assistance when you need it most.

Providing hardship relief

Community banks understand that it might take time for you to navigate disaster relief services. They often are willing to work with you regarding missed mortgage payments, difficulties accessing funds and so on during times of hardship – in some cases without the extensive documentation they would normally require.

No matter what type of banking services you need in the aftermath of a natural disaster, a locally owned community bank can be a crucial resource to help you get back on your feet quickly – and help you avoid being taken advantage of by scam artists.


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