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FDIC Consumer News - Summer 1998

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.

Coming to Grips with a Gripe

Not quite sure how to fix a problem with your bank? FDIC Consumer News asked Kathlyn Hoekstra, an FDIC attorney in Washington and a specialist in ways to resolve disputes, for her recommendations.

• Keep your cool. Don’t turn your problem into a personal dispute with a bank employee. “Yelling generally doesn’t help, and neither does trying to blame someone,” Hoekstra says.

• Ask to speak with a manager, vice president or someone else with the authority to solve your problem.

• Start with a question, not an accusation. Example: “I’m confused about this charge. Can you explain it to me?”

• Before talking to the banker, summarize in your head or on a piece of paper what the problem is and what you’d like done about it. “This will help get your point across,” she says.

• Think about your second and third choices for solutions. “Ask yourself what might make you feel better if the bank doesn’t give you the exact solution you want but it will accommodate you in another way,” Hoekstra says.

• If you’ve been a good customer over the years, point that out to the banker. “If the bank wants to have a continuing relationship with you,” she says, “then resolving your problem is in its best interest.”

If you can’t resolve a serious problem that involves a lot of money, you probably need outside help. Consider contacting the bank’s primary regulator if you believe the institution may be violating a law or regulation. But if your problem involves a disagreement over a transaction—the kind of dispute a regulatory agency isn’t likely to get involved with—you have a few options. One is to hire an attorney, but be aware of the costs, especially if the matter were to go to court.

Hoekstra also suggests consumers look into using an independent mediator—a little-known, lower-cost alternative to hiring an attorney. The mediator listens to both sides and tries to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable solution. There’s no guarantee the bank would agree to the mediation process or the recommendations of a mediator, but Hoekstra says it might be worth a try. She says mediators can be hired at little or no cost, and that you can find a reputable service in your area by calling your local bar association, state or local consumer
protection agency, or Better Business Bureau.

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Last Updated 07/30/1999 communications@fdic.gov