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Don’t Let a Natural Disaster Hurt Your Credit Score

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Many people affected by Hurricane Sandy have reached out with questions about the potential impacts this natural disaster can have on their credit scores, as the storm has severely impacted “normal” daily living activities we all take for granted — including mailing a mortgage payment or paying a credit card bill online.

The fact that the storm occurred has no direct effect on the score, since that kind of information is not considered in a score calculation. In addition, geographic information (such as your zipcode or the county where you live) is not considered by a credit score. This means that residents in the areas that were hit hard by the storm will not experience an automatic adjustment in score just because their township was heavily impacted.

The credit score can be affected if the consumer’s credit behaviors change and that change in behavior is then reflected in the underlying credit bureau data. For example, the reporting of a recent late payment or the build up of balances on credit cards could result in a negative change in the credit score.

If you are one of the unfortunate people who live in an area that was hit by Hurricane Sandy, or any natural disaster, it is in your best interest to contact your creditors as soon as possible to inform them of your situation. Don’t assume they know that you don’t have power or have not received mail for several days due to the storm and that is the reason for your late payment.

Most banks and credit unions will have special processes and procedures in place to work with you through this difficult period which will help you maintain your good credit status. However, communicating with them is the first step toward getting the help you need, and protecting your credit in the midst of disaster.

Image: RichardBowen, via Flickr

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