Hurricane Katrina - Information for Consumers and Bankers in the Affected Areas
Helpful Banking Tips from the FDIC for Hurricane Katrina Victims
Hurricane Katrina has left many thousands of people without homes and access to vital services. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is working around the clock with other parts of government and FDIC-insured institutions to ensure that banking services are available – including access to your money. Here are some helpful tips:
- Answers to your banking questions
For information about accessing your bank accounts, lost records, ATM cards, direct deposits or how to reach your bank, contact the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC, that's 1-877-275-3342. This hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also visit the FDIC's Web site at www.fdic.gov. The FDIC Web site includes updated information about banks operating in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina along with consumer contact and branch information.
- Your money is safe
While Hurricane Katrina has disrupted operations at some branches, you can be confident that your money is safe. Banks must keep extensive back-up records to ensure that customer account information is accurate and protected. Consumers can rely on the guarantees provided by the FDIC, which protects bank and thrift depositors. Remember, no depositor has ever lost one cent insured by the FDIC.
- Bank accounts can be accessed – cash is available
Banks in the disaster areas have their computer systems operating so customers can access their money through debit and ATM cards, even if the physical office is damaged or closed. There are other options for getting cash or making payments: You may be able to cash a check at a nearby bank or use your credit card. Several institutions also have transactional Internet banking services available.
- Banks have been asked to help victims
Individual banks make their own decisions on how to handle this emergency situation. With encouragement from the FDIC and other regulators, many banks are helping customers affected by the hurricane in several ways, including: not charging ATM fees; increasing the amount that can be withdrawn daily from ATM machines; and easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks. Banks also have been informed that they can be flexible in the types of ID used and in the timing for verifying customer IDs when opening accounts for displaced customers.
- Guard against theft and scams
Protect your Social Security number, bank account and credit card numbers, and other personal information. Also protect cards or other important documents issued by FEMA and the Red Cross. Remember that fraud artists may try to trick victims (or their loved ones) into giving out personal information that could lead to theft.
If you believe you may be a victim of ID theft, contact the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus at their toll-free numbers to place a "fraud alert" on your credit file: Equifax at 1-888-766-0008, Experian at 1-888-397-3742, or
TransUnion at 1-800-680-7289. This can help prevent a thief from opening new accounts or making changes to your existing accounts.