CFO Alex Sink's Consumer eViews Newsletter

                Volume 5  Number 39  September 26, 2008

CONSUMER SERVICES HELPLINE 877-MY-FL-CFO

Washington Mutual (WaMu), one of Florida’s 10 largest banks, was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Thursday night. All of WaMu’s branches, deposits and assets were immediately sold to JPMorgan Chase, providing customers full access to their accounts and the ability to continue banking as usual.

It is important for Floridians banking with WaMu to understand that due to the quick sale to JPMorgan Chase, bank branches will be open and business will continue as normal. WaMu customers with questions can visit their local branch, call the customer service division at 1-800-788-7000, or call the FDIC Call Center at 1-877-275-3342 for more information.

WaMu customers should hear from JPMorgan Chase soon, as happens under normal circumstances when one bank buys another. All deposit accounts, including savings, checking, money market, and retirement accounts and certificates of deposit, have become part of JPMorgan Chase Bank, although the signs may not change for awhile.

Direct deposits such as payroll or Social Security checks will continue as normal, as will use of your debit card. WaMu customers can still use the checks you have now, and checks already written will be honored provided that you have sufficient funds in the account. Loan payment amounts and due dates will not change, automatic payments will continue as usual and online banking remains available.

The crisis on Wall Street and in the financial markets is undoubtedly unsettling for Floridians who bank with WaMu. It also raises questions for all of us about what happens when a bank fails and what our individual responsibilities are as customers.

Here are some important things you need to know to weather a bank failure:
  • Be sure your accounts do not exceed FDIC insurance limits. The FDIC insures deposits titled in your name up to $100,000 in any one bank. Deposit accounts include checking and savings accounts, money market accounts and Certificates of Deposit (or CDs). For more information on FDIC insurance coverage of your deposits, visit the FDIC website www.fdic.gov or call them at 866-806-5919.
  • IRA accounts are also insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000. If you have more than one IRA, talk to your banker about ways to maximize the available FDIC insurance.
  • If your bank is taken over, you do NOT have to fill out any paperwork for the FDIC for your account to receive their protection. Floridians banking with WaMu do not have to do anything to continue their FDIC protection.
  • If you have a mortgage or other loan with a bank that is taken over by the FDIC, your loan terms will remain the same. Make your loan payments to the same address – and be sure they are on time! Loan payments should continue to go to the same address unless notified properly by the FDIC to send payments to a new address. Your loan may be transferred to a different lender, but the terms would remain the same.
  • Beware of scams and the opportunity for identity theft. Talk with your bank if anything seems out of the ordinary or suspicious. The FDIC and your bank WILL NOT call or email you to verify account numbers, personal information including social security numbers.
  • If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the Department of Financial Services Consumer Help line at 1-877-MY-FL-CFO. Or visit our Web site at www.MyFloridaCFO.com.