by Carmen Wong Ulrich, CNBC, personal finance expert
Pictures and news are coming out of California that I never thought I'd see again: lines of people making a run on a bank—a formerly big bank—in a panic about their money. The police were called in as balances and interest disappeared and answers didn't come fast enough.
Granted, we have a ways to go when it comes to the repercussions of the mortgage lending mess, but we, as depositors, have control over one thing: where we put our money. If you have an account with FDIC insurance, you should never be in a line at the bank to pull your money. Here's a walk-through of how you can make sure your money is safe:
1) Confirm that your deposits and banking institution has FDIC insurance. If you're not sure, head to FDIC.gov and check.
2) Know that FDIC insurance is aggregate—meaning, it's not $100,000 of insurance on each your checking and savings accounts but your holdings as a whole. To find out which of your accounts is insured, and which is not, use the FDIC's EDIE tool.
3) Know the guidelines: Insured up to $100,000 = savings, checking, CDs, trusts. Insured up to $250,000 = Individual retirement accounts (IRAs) which include 401(k)s, 403(b)s and Roths. NOT insured = investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance and annuities.