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IndyMac Lesson: Check for FDIC Insurance

Coverage is provided for the interest of each qualifying beneficiary named by each owner. Additional coverage is not provided to the owners for naming themselves as owners.

Note: There are complex exceptions to this rule for certain trusts, so if you are planning to keep large amounts on deposit for a trust, you should speak with a bank officer to confirm your deposit insurance.

What Should You Do Now?

1. Make Sure Your Bank Accounts are Insured Deposits!
Banks offer many types of investments these days, and some of those look like insured deposits, but may not be. Now is the time to make sure that products purchased inside your bank are actually insured deposit accounts. Ask that question directly, and ask your banker to show you the language of your account agreement that confirms the deposit insurance.

2. Check Your Insurance Limits
If you have amounts above $100,000 in your bank, you may want to move money by wire transfer to another insured deposit institution. That could mean having the interest earned on your jumbo CD sent to you each month, instead of accruing to your account. Don't forget that balances in your checking account will be added to your other deposit accounts.

3. Use Alternative, Safe Investments
You can purchase Treasury bills, the world's safest and most liquid investments, directly from the government. The minimum investment is now only $100, but you can purchase much larger amounts, in effect getting the government's IOU for money that is far above the deposit insurance limits.

The process of buying Treasuries online is simple, and transactions are done by direct debit from your bank account. Interest is automatically paid out to your bank account. For larger investments, you can stagger maturity dates. Plan to hold those securities to maturity -- typically 13 or 26 weeks -- before getting access to your money by having it deposited to your bank account.

Bottom Line: You can sleep well with "money in the bank," but only if you know the FDIC-insurance status of those funds.

If you've been smart or lucky enough to accumulate savings above the insured limits, you should take the time to evaluate your banking situation and take appropriate steps to give your money maximum safety.

Terry Savage is an expert on personal finance and also appears as a commentator on national television on issues related to investing and the financial markets. Savage's personal finance column in the Chicago Sun-Times is nationally syndicated. She was the first woman trader on the Chicago Board Options Exchange and is a registered investment adviser for stocks and futures. Savage currently serves as a director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Corp.
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