Why You're Safe Under the JP Morgan/WaMu Deal


The FDIC has avoided depleting its funds, announcing the government will seize Washington Mutual and sell its assets to JP Morgan Chase (STOCK QUOTE: JPM) for around $2 billion. Thanks to the deal the FDIC says it won't have to use its assets to bail out WaMu's deposits.

What does this mean for you?

Fewer Branches. While no specific location announcements have been made, J.P. Morgan expects to shut down up to 10% of the combined banks' branches across the country.

"Seamless" Transition. The FDIC's main mission is to make sure banking services continue. Since the federal group managed to find another bank to relieve WaMu, your scheduled direct deposits will transfer as they did in the past. Your ATM card will still be valid and accepted at your usual ATM machine, says Tibby Ford, spokesperson for the FDIC.

Some Possible Changes. Keep abreast of any and all new rules announced by JP Morgan. As soon as a bank is acquired, the new ownership can announce new interest rates and fees on financial products, experts say. "Basically the minute the acquisition of deposits occurs, the acquirer can reestablish interest rates." It's up to us to keep aware. Technically, the new bank needs to inform its depositors through the mail, but that may take some time. "You have to be more proactive," says Ford. Check on the bank's Web site or call a bank representative to get caught up. She adds that during the transition, when available, the FDIC will post important bank service changes on its Web site. In addition, don't get rid of any old bank paperwork that states your current balance and investments. If there are any discrepancies that pop up after the acquisition, you can defend your records. "Definitely keep track of everything," says Tracy Mills of th Consumer Bankers Association. "That should be an automatic thing to do,"

Your Rights Are Protected. In some cases, changes installed by the acquiring bank may cost us money, but then there are protections in place in that event. For example, if the acquiring bank chooses to reduce the saving rates on certain products, our 12-month CD for example, we have the right to liquidate that CD early without a penalty, says Ford.

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