will be the real victims if Y2K plans don’t pan out. They rely on an automated system for ordering products. Scanning problems could adversely affect this vital function. “But that problem should be short term, if it happens at all,” he contends.
STINGERS TO YOUR POCKETBOOK
“We’re not expecting any widescale problems, since banks have been working on this issue for about three years,” notes David Barr, spokesperson for the FDIC. “But there may be some minor inconveniences.” For example, ATM machines may be down, so you might expect to conduct business with the bank’s teller. As a safety precaution, keep cash on hand to tide you over for about a week. More important, Barr recommends you “keep documentation of your financial records in case anything goes wrong.” Financial institutions are especially vulnerable to Y2K malfunctions because transactions are date-sensitive. Inaccuracies could directly impact interest calculations, recordings of loan payments, automated teller machine transactions and stock updates. According to an issue of the FDIC’s Consumer News, consumers should keep track of all banking transactions, especially those conducted in the last six months of 1999 up through the first several months of 2000. Your records should include ATM withdrawals, deposits, canceled checks, tax payments, loan statements (including credit card, mortgage, auto, etc.) and investments. If you find a discrepancy between your records and your financial statements, report it to your institution immediately. Also, ask your lender for a printout of your mortgage or other loan payments, outlining how much of your payments were made toward the principal and interest. And request copies of your “Personal Earnings and Benefit State
ment” from the Social Security Administration (800-772-1213 or www.ssa.gov) so you can make comparisons in 1999 and in Y2K.
In addition, determine the extent of your FDIC coverage. If you or your family’s account balances are $100,000 or less in any one institution, your money is completely covered by FDIC insurance. For balances above $100,000, you could still be protected, but call the FDIC’s Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs (800-934-3342) or visit the Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator (EDIE) at the FDIC’s Website (www.fdic.gov) for clarification.
“Mutual funds, stocks and bonds are not covered by the FDIC,” Barr advises. He suggests the same precautions taken with FDIC institutions also be taken with other financial companies. “Keep your statements and transaction receipts,” he advises. “If you have money in a bank located in a foreign country, it’s not insured by the FDIC.” In that case, talk to your overseas financial institution directly to get a firsthand account of the firm’s Y2K readiness and its contingency plans for system failures. As with domestic financial institutions, if you’re not convinced that a foreign company is adequately prepared for the new millennium, consider taking your money elsewhere. For those of you who prefer plastic, here are a few suggestions to insulate your credit cards.
ZAP YOUR CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS
Purchases made on credit are subject to the same Y2K guidelines as other financial transactions. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you should