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FINANCIAL CRISIS: EFFECTS BROADEN

Is my account safe here?

Here are ways to check on the soundness of your credit union.

October 12, 2008|E. Scott Reckard | Times Staff Writer

The government-run National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund insures most deposits at credit unions, just as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. covers most deposits at banks and thrifts: You can entrust up to $100,000 at any single credit union and be fully covered. It's possible to increase that limit with qualified retirement accounts, joint accounts and trust accounts.

The financial-system rescue adopted this month raises the basic insurance limit to $250,000 from $100,000.

You should consult with your credit union to make sure your deposits are fully insured, said Daniel Penrod, an analyst for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, a trade group.

In addition, the National Credit Union Administration, a federal regulator, has an online insurance estimator at webapps.ncua.gov/ins.

If you want to do a quick check of a credit union's soundness, free ratings are available online from Bankrate Inc. ( www.bankrate.com/brm /safesound/ss_home.asp) and BauerFinancial Inc. (bauer financial.com/btc_ratings .asp).

Both firms grade credit unions, as well as banks and thrifts, on a five-star scale, with five stars being the best. The ratings are based on the institutions' quarterly reports to regulators.

Bankrate also offers free access to selected financial data for each institution.

And those comfortable with financial reports can check the credit unions' regulatory filings at the National Credit Union Administration site (webapps .ncua.gov/ncuafpr).

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scott.reckard@latimes.com

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