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In the event of a disaster like an earthquake, what would happen to legal records, financial records, etc.? If a bank were destroyed, would records of my balance be destroyed along with it? What about my mortgage payments?

-- Chicken Little, San Diego

Hah. Expecting a little disaster to get you off the financial hook? Every night banks zap their daily account activity all over the state, storing duplicate info in another location, for just such an eventuality. Paper records are in concrete vaults. Some basic city and county records are microfilmed and stored in other vaults. A triage plan covers other documents. Basically, your house may fall into a crack, but your mortgage payments will still exist, and you'll still get a credit card bill through what's left of your mailbox.

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