Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bank Closures Continue

I received a letter in the mail on Saturday from the FDIC stating that my bank, Amtrust Bank had been taken over by the FDIC on December 4, 2009 and as of January 1, 2010 my mortgage loan would be serviced by another bank.

Amtrust Bank was founded in 1889 and headquartered in Ohio. AmTrust Bank was the second largest thrift in the U.S., a subsidiary of New York Community Bancorp, Inc (NYCB). AmTrust Bank had 29 branches in northeast Ohio, 25 branches in Southern Florida, and 12 branches in Phoenix Arizona, 124 branches in New York and 53 branches in New Jersey totaling 243 branch offices. AmTrust bank had approximately $42 billion in assets.

As a personal finance expert and coach I assumed I was immune from my mortgage company closing. Amtrust was a bank for boasted of customers with good credit; they provided large loans to investors and other companies. They had a good track record and financial reports, and they had been in business for over 120 years - yet they too fall into the trap of greed and profit and lost their focus. They have been added to the list of FDIC bank closures which totals 140 so far in 2009.

If you are a customer of Amtrust visit their website or contact the FDIC to get more information about your account. Here are 10 tips to help you if your bank has closed or gone bankrupt.

1. Call the FDIC or visit their website to get information about your bank if it was FDIC insured.

2. Check with your bank to get the status of any outstanding checks written to your old bank.

3. Contact the new bank to ask about the status of your account and verify your account balance and standing.

4. Always have at least $100 in cash on hand in the event your bank closes and you are not allowed to access your account.

5. Don't wait until the last minute to pay bills, pay bills at least 7-10 days before the due date.

6. Have multiple bank accounts (checking and savings) so if a problem occurs with one account you can access the other account and still conduct transactions if needed.

7. Do business with FDIC insured banks only.

8. Consider opening an account with a credit union.

9. Look at the bank or mortgage company's financial history for the past five years. If the company revenue has been steadily declining you might want to consider switching banks.

10. Perform bank transactions early in the morning. This ensures your deposit will be applied the same day. Don't wait until the last minute to make transactions; this increases the chance that your transaction may not be applied to your account the same day and may cause a check to bounce.

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