How Safe Is Your Bank?

Many depositors, who flocked to withdraw money from California's IndyMac bank this week, suddenly were faced another problem: Where will their money be safe?

"You really don't know, do you?" said one depositor.

For the average consumer, what do you look for in a bank?

CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker spoke with bank analyst Dennis Santiago, who says that while there is no foolproof checklist to determine if a bank is sound, there are important things to consider:

  • Is the your particular deposit FDIC insured? The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation guarantees all deposits of $100,000 or less. But that does not include mutual funds, stocks and bonds.

  • High interest-rates being offered on new accounts. If they're higher than everyone else's, ask questions. Could be nothing, but could be an indicator that the bank is strapped for capital or cash.

  • Stock prices. If the value of the bank's stock is plunging, again, find out why.

    For do-it-yourselfers, the FDIC has numbers and information on every bank in the country and links to experts who have already crunched the numbers.

    "To learn about a specific institution you're going to have to do your homework," Santiago said.

    The main thing consumers can do is read the fine print.
    • Bill Whitaker

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