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Disaster prep your bank data

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Monday, September 5, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

Disaster preparedness usually focuses on safeguarding people and property.

But what about your financial data? Would you be able to make purchases, access your bank and investment accounts and find your income tax returns after an earthquake, hurricane, tornado or other natural catastrophe?

If not, the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade group of community banks, has some tips for financial preparedness that might help.

Here's a to-do list:

• Start an emergency fund and contribute to it until you've saved enough to pay your household expenses for at least three or four months. Keep these funds separate from your checking, savings and investment accounts.

• Put some extra cash in your home emergency kit, which should also include a three-day supply of food and water, first-aid kit, can opener, a flashlight, radio and extra batteries.

• Print hard copies of financial records that are stored on your computer, which might not be accessible during an electrical power outage.

• Scan your paper documents and store back-up copies of those electronically in your email account or a secure online backup service.

• Store your family and financial records in a sealed plastic bag inside a bank safe-deposit box. Include your marriage licenses, adoption papers, property deeds, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, passports, Social Security cards, immunization records, credit card account numbers, car titles or lease contracts, bank and investment account numbers and three years of tax returns.

• Obtain extra official copies of critical documents, such as birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage certificates and the deed to your home. Tell a trusted financial adviser or close relative where these documents are safeguarded.

• Review your homeowner's or renter's insurance and consider buying extra coverage if your home or belongings could be damaged by an earthquake, flood or other disaster.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff

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