Ask Finney: Card reader skimmer detection, package delivery protection, FEMA help for North Bay Wildfire victims

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 7 On Your Side's Consumer expert Michael Finney answers your questions every weekday on ABC7 Mornings. Submit your video questions and tune in at 6 a.m.

Question 1:

Andrew asked on Twitter: How can a consumer sniff out a card skimming device before using it?

Answer 1:

Card skimming has become a huge problem the last few years, especially at ATM Machines and gas pumps. Thieves have gotten really good at making these devices hard to detect when attaching to existing card reader equipment. Try to use card readers that are less of a target, like in well-lit areas and those closest to attendants. Give those card readers a good tug or shake and look for any signs of tampering, like scratches or glue.

Question 2:

Arthur from South San Francisco asked: I'm concerned about packages being delivered by regular mail with the holidays and all the theft that takes place. Can I just leave my mail carrier a note on where to hide them?

Answer 2:

The postal service will definitely place your packages wherever you'd like, but you have to give them a heads-up. Go to the United States Postal Service's website and using your tracking number, instruct them on where you want the package placed, like at the back door near the bushes, and they'll do it. There is also a service called "Package Intercept" where you can change the package's destination while it's in transit.

Question 3:

Sherri from Santa Rosa asked: As a victim of the North Bay Wildfires, will FEMA cover whatever our insurance does not?

Answer 3:

FEMA does not write any blank checks, so I don't want to give you that impression. But, there is a lot of help available to you. FEMA offers a Critical Needs Assistance grant for $500 and another up to $34,000 through the Individuals and Households Program. You don't pay back any of that money. The Small Business Administration also offers two loans. You may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or rebuild your home and an additional $40,000 to replace personal property. These loans help with any underinsured items and the interest rate can be less than 2%. It actually peaks at 3%. Anyone severely impacted by the wildfires qualifies to apply. So, be sure to fill out your paperwork.
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