Post-disaster money do's and don'ts
shock of terrorist attacks is numbing, but their actions will not
undermine your finances.
Here's the big picture: The Federal Reserve Board,
the institution that controls the flow of cash in our monetary system,
issued a reassurance just hours after the attack, letting the nation
know more cash can and will be pumped into our system if necessary.
On Wednesday, Sept. 12, the board added an unusually large $38.25
billion in temporary reserves into the U.S. banking system. Plus,
the FDIC protects your money in the bank.
But, you wonder, is there anything special I should
do to protect my personal finances? Is my money really safe? Here
are some do's and don'ts for those who were not directly affected
by the terrorist attacks.
Do: Pay your regular monthly
bills more promptly this month.
With the nation's air carriers grounded for six days following the
attacks, the U.S. mail system will be slowed down at least for the
next week or so. Allow for a little extra time so your payments
will be timely.
Do: Consider paying your bills
online, by phone or directly to payee.
If you haven't used the online-payment option for your bills, check
it out. You'll save on postage and be assured that the payment is
on time. Some companies, especially utilities offer consumers the
opportunity to pay by check over the phone at no additional fee.
Another option is to deliver your payment to the payee. If your
mortgage is sent to the bank's processing center far away, you may
be able to drop off your payment at its local branch to avoid late-fee
Do: Be more diligent in your
Keep good records of your monthly bill payments and hang on to all
your ATM receipts, bank deposit slips and the like. You should do
this anyway, but it would be wise to keep more detailed records
of your payments just in case you need it for back up.
Do: Track 'borderline' checks.
If you know you're close to being late on a payment, monitor your
bank account and follow it closely. Payments you dropped off at
the post office over the weekend of Sept. 8 or early in the week
may have a tough time clearing if they have a long way to go and
a short time to get there. As a pre-emptive measure, contact the
payee to let them know you may be a tad late this month. Under the
circumstances, they may cut you a break.
Do: Make sure your payments
have been received.
Contact your mortgage company, credit card issuers and other companies
you do business with to make sure they have received your payments.
It's better to be proactive now than to be scrambling later to prove
you made the payment.
Do: Give blood.
The burn victims especially are in need of the plasma. Make a monetary
donation to your local Red Cross or other organization offering
aid to the families directly affected by the attacks. Click
here for more information.
You don't need to buy a gun, carry a wad of cash or lug around a
100-pound bag of rice.
Don't hit up your ATM for
a large amount of cash.
There's no need to hoard cash. Our nation's banks are open and operating
normally; the infrastructure is not damaged. We have electricity
to operate the ATMs and the assurance of the Federal Reserve Board
and the FDIC that our cash reserves are secure.
Don't rush out and fill your
car with gas.
The nation's largest oil companies including, ExxonMobil and Chevron
put a freeze on prices and pledge to keep distribution steady. We
don't need to stockpile gasoline. In fact, one gas station in Oklahoma
that had raised gas prices to $5 a gallon on the day of the attacks
is now offering to refund his customers the amount they overcharged
Don't cancel a planned financial
If you planned to close on a house this week, or are ready to sign
the papers for a refinance, do it. America's financial institutions
Don't fall for scams.
Be on the lookout for "disaster deals" -- no such thing.
Consumers need to be extra vigilant with personal information. Do
not release any personal banking information such as account numbers
or balances to anyone.
-- Posted: Sept. 12, 2001