Marketwatch has published an interesting article with advice for customers whose banks are going through a merger. I’m no stranger to this phenomenon. When I was 16, I had my first bank account with New Jersey National Bank. It was sooner or later bought by or merged with CoreStates (Dec. 6, 1996), then First Union (May 16, 1998), and most recently Wachovia (Apr. 1, 2002). The source of those merger dates is the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.
Each deal took over a year, I believe. Here’s how Marketwatch suggests dealing with the merger after the fact.
Watch your mail carefully over the next few years following a merger for any changes in the way you’re required to do your banking business. Headaches we’ve seen concerning mergers have included mail going to outdated addresses, money being incorrectly deducted from accounts and a cut in branch services.
The article then offers ten detailed suggestions. Here’s a quick overview:
* Kepp crystal-clear records.
* Use an amortization schedule for your mortgage.
* If the bank merges with another where you already have an account, make sure you’re not going over the $100,000 per SSN per bank limit for FDIC insurance.
* Watch for fee increases.
* Watch your interest rates to ensure they remain competitive.
* Determine whether your branch manager has the authority to offer price deals or waive fees.
* If the new entity didn’t properly transfer a security or account, contact the regulatory agency. Marketwatch suggests starting with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for national banks, the Office of Thrift Supervision for federally chartered savings institutions, or your state’s financial services division for state-chartered institutions.
* Find out if the merger introduced better deals or accounts for which you might qualify.
* Find a lawyer familiar with consumer law if your problems aren’t getting resolved.
* Consider joining a credit union, which may treat you, the customer, better than a large corporation.
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published January 23, 2006.