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FDIC Consumer News - Summer 1999

Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

The FDIC: At Your Service

How the FDIC helps consumers with their banking questions and problems...and how you can help yourself

You know the FDIC as the guardian of your deposits in insured banks and savings institutions. But the FDIC plays many other consumer-protection roles, and one of those jobs is to assist consumers with their banking-related questions and problems.

Each year, the FDIC gets thousands of calls and letters from consumers and consumer representatives asking questions or expressing concerns about banking matters. Most of these requests are handled by the agency's Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs. We encourage consumers to contact us. Why? Because:

s As one of several federal regulators of banking institutions, the FDIC is responsible for enforcing compliance with consumer protection and civil rights laws at about 6,000 banks in the U.S.

s Better understanding consumer concerns about banks helps us improve our examination procedures and the rules governing consumer protection programs.

s As the federal insurer of deposits in more than 10,000 banks and savings institutions, we believe that the more you know about deposit insurance and your rights and responsibilities, the more confidence you'll have in the entire financial system.

So the next time you have a question about your banking relationship, especially one that involves deposit insurance or a problem you can't resolve directly with your institution, think of the FDIC as a place to turn. Here's how we help consumers:

1. Responses to complaints against a financial institution.
The FDIC will review complaints suggesting that an FDIC-supervised bank violated a consumer protection law or fair lending law. Initially, the FDIC may contact the bank and seek more information. If warranted, the FDIC may conduct an on-site investigation. If the FDIC finds that the bank did violate a law or regulation, the agency can order corrective measures and, if authorized by federal law, reimbursement to the consumer.

In some circumstances, such as those involving lending discrimination, the FDIC may refer suspected or actual violations of law to other government agencies (such as the U.S. Department of Justice).

But remember that while the FDIC insures deposits in nearly all banks and savings associations in the United States, the FDIC may not be the primary regulator of a particular institution. If your financial institution is supervised by the FDIC, our specialists in the Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs can provide you with information about your rights as a consumer and, in some cases, may work with you and your bank to try to resolve the matter. But even if your financial institution isn't supervised by the FDIC, our specialists can help put you in touch with the agency that can assist you. (Names, addresses and phone numbers for the five federal regulators of depository institutions )

Regrettably, a large percentage of the problems consumers tell us about are simply beyond the FDIC's legal authority. For example: The FDIC can't settle a complaint that a bank didn't properly record a loan or interest payment to a consumer's account. Why? Because that's a dispute between a bank and a consumer over whether the institution is living up to the terms of a loan or deposit agreement, and that's a private matter governed by state contract law, not by federal banking law. Our best advice in these situations often is to try to solve the problem with the bank directly, and if that doesn't work, to consider enlisting the help of the state government or a private attorney. The FDIC also doesn't comment on matters that are in litigation.

Even when a problem is beyond our authority to resolve, the FDIC sometimes assists consumers indirectly. We might, for example, help a consumer understand confusing information, contact an institution that appears to be dragging its feet in response to a customer's complaint, or refer a consumer to a state government office (perhaps the state financial institution regulator, consumer protection department or state Attorney General) that might provide additional assistance.

2. Answers to requests for information.
The FDIC responds to inquiries from consumers, financial institutions and others about deposit insurance, fair lending and other consumer protections. The most common insurance-related questions typically involve how to tell if accounts are within the $100,000 insurance limit and how to verify that a particular institution is FDIC-insured.

One new way the FDIC helps individual consumers answer their deposit insurance questions is through an interactive Internet site called the Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE), found at our www.fdic.gov Web site. By answering some simple questions about your accounts, EDIE can help you quickly and easily figure out whether your funds in an FDIC-insured institution are within the $100,000 insurance limit.

3. Publications, meetings and other outreach efforts.
In addition to one-on-one assistance, the FDIC uses other programs to help educate groups of consumers and bankers regarding deposit insurance and consumer protection rules. FDIC Consumer News is one example of the publications we offer, but there are many more, including brochures about deposit insurance, non-deposit investment products that are not FDIC-insured (such as mutual funds you might purchase at your bank) and descriptions of your rights when it comes to mortgages and credit cards.

The FDIC also has a Community Affairs Program, where staff specialists meet regularly with bankers, community organizations, small businesses and local government leaders. We conduct conferences and seminars to help educate bankers and consumers about the Community Reinvestment Act and other fair lending laws and regulations.

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Final Thoughts
We want you to learn more about how the FDIC and other government agencies can help consumers with their problems, and how consumers can help themselves. For more tips and information about your rights as a consumer-and your responsibilities-please keep reading.

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Last Updated 09/10/1999 communications@fdic.gov