CNBC/Portfolio.com Survey Says 35% of Customers Not Confident Money Safe if Bank Fails

A CNBC/Portfolio survey of 800 respondents found that 35% are not confident or only somewhat confident their money is safe in an Federally insured bank. The FDIC fires back.

A CNBC/Portfolio survey of 800 respondents found that 35% are not confident or only somewhat confident their money is safe in an Federally insured bank.  In response, the FDIC issues a press release, saying:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation today reminded the American public about the iron-clad protections depositors receive when placing their money in insured financial institutions, including the fact that in the 75-year history of the FDIC no one has lost even a penny of federally insured deposits.

"The American people can rest comfortably knowing that their FDIC-insured deposits are 100 percent safe," said FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair. "In fact, there's no safer place in the world for their checking, savings or retirement money."

The FDIC noted that a CNBC/Portfolio.com "Wealth in America" survey released today asked the confidence level of consumers that money saved in federally insured bank accounts would be safe if their bank were to fail. The survey found that 32 percent said they were totally confident that their money is safe, 33 percent said they were mostly confident, 20 percent indicated they were only somewhat confident, 11 percent said they were not that confident their money is safe, and four percent said they weren't sure.

The FDIC reiterated the following points to remember:

  • Congress recently temporarily raised the basic deposit insurance coverage from at least $100,000 to at least $250,000 per depositor. A depositor may qualify for more than the basic insurance coverage at one insured bank if the funds are held in different "ownership categories," such as such as single accounts, joint accounts, certain retirement accounts, and trust accounts. For example, a depositor's money in three different ownership categories at one bank can qualify for up to $750,000 of FDIC insurance coverage.  Note that, under the new law, the basic FDIC insurance limit is scheduled to return to $100,000 on January 1, 2010. However, the reduction in coverage starting in 2010 will not affect certain retirement accounts, which will continue to be protected up to $250,000. The FDIC also has recently expanded the protection for certain trust and checking accounts.
  • Since the creation of the FDIC, the agency has handled the failures of more than 2,200 depository institutions and no depositor has lost even a penny of insured funds. The FDIC's insurance fund, which consists of premiums paid by insured banks and the interest earned on them, also is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.
  • Depositors who have questions about their insurance coverage can turn to the FDIC for assistance they can rely on. The FDIC's resources include consumer information online starting at www.myFDICinsurance.gov, which includes "EDIE," the agency's interactive deposit insurance calculator that will show if a depositor has funds over the insurance limits. A Spanish version is available at www.fdicseguro.gov.

From everything we've seen the FDIC has moved aggressively whenever banks have failed or are about to fail.  In a case like Indymac where there has been a bank failure, the FDIC has moved quickly to provide depositors with access to their funds.  In general, banks are shut down on Friday and resume operations the next Monday.  In the case of Indymac, the FDIC even covered 50% of the deposits held in excess of FDIC limits. 

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Investing: 52 percent of respondents said it is a somewhat bad or very bad time to invest in the stock market, up from 27 percent in October, 2007;
  • Purchasing a Car: 37 percent surveyed said they would be willing to buy a car from a bankrupt auto maker, while 52 percent said they would not, and 11 percent were unsure.

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