As a follow up to Brian's post, banks and credit unions are required by law to file quarterly "call reports" with the FDIC (in the case of banks and savings and loans) and the NCUA (in the case of credit union) to report their financial condition.
You can look up your bank or credit union at the following links to a) make sure they are insured, and b) check their financial statements and ratio reports, which are a quick snapshot of their performance.
If you can't locate your financial institution, call them and ask for their FDIC certificate number (bank or savings and loan) or their NCUA charter number (credit union). If they don't have one, you should probably be concerned. (Just ask former customers of the SIBC.)
The easiest way to check your bank's health is to use BankRate.com's Safe & Sound® ratings. They comb through the call report data to rate banks, savings and loans, and credit unions on peer performance, industry standards, and key benchmarks.
Here are some example ratings for area banks and credit unions of interest:
Home Federal: ****
Tennessee State Bank: ****
Bank of America NA: ***
Regions Bank: ***
First Tennessee: **
TVA Credit Union: ****
UT Credit Union: ***
ORNL Credit Union: ***
BankRate.com also provides a narrative report on their findings and how they arrived at the ratings (find your bank, select the "memorandum" option).
For all of these report and ratings, keep in mind that call reports are filed quarterly and it takes a while for the data to make its way into the databases (they are currently available through March 2008). As we have seen, a lot can happen in one quarter!
Bank and savings and loan deposits are insured up to $100,000 per depositor ($250,000 for certain retirement accounts) by the FDIC. Credit union deposits are insured for like amounts by the National Credit Union Association.
(Joint accounts are divided to calculate liability, so for example a husband and wife can have combinations of joint and/or individual accounts up to $200,000 insured. Here's more info from the FDIC on how that works.)
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