Washington Mutual Answers

Philadelphia, Pa.-September 26, 2008 "Either way whether they went under or not or if someone took them over I knew my $ was safe," said Deepak Suri of Morrisville New Jersey.

It's true. Washington Mutual customers will notice no difference whatsoever in their checking or money market accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, or CDs.

"Everything is exactly the same as it was the day before it's just that somebody else owns the institution," said Joe Murray with First Financial Group.

JP Morgan Chase is the new owner, but customer money is protected by the federal deposit insurance corporation - the FDIC. Normally, the FDIC limits on the amount of money it insures per account depending on the type of account. But, in this case and for the first time ever the government has announced it will protect even money that exceeds those limitations.

"They're covering every penny of the deposits for six months to give people a chance to get back in and take a look at their accounts and make sure they are structurally proper for FDIC insurance," he said.

But here's what Washington Mutuals failure means for all of us even non-customers.

Every time a bank fails, we experience a further tightening of the credit crunch.

"You can still get money if you need it but you're going to pay dearly for it and most companies can't afford to do that and obviously individuals certainly can't afford to do it," he added.

And even with the anticipated government bailout some say get used to these tough times.

They are far from over.

"Expect a great deal more banks to go out because what's happening is the banking system is cleaning itself," he said.

You can look out for some warning signs your bank may be next.

Increasingly difficulty getting a loan could be a red flag.

Also, keep your eye on your bank's stock. The market often knows well in advance of impending failures.

Meantime, make sure your portfolio is well-diversified.

Don't put all your money in one area.

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