Is your bank safe?

The number of 'problem banks' has risen this quarter and is expected to grow. Here's how to protect your money.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN

For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' "Home Rich," now in bookstores.

NEW YORK ( -- More banks are in trouble according to the FDIC. Is your bank next on the list? Here's what to look for.

1. Get the numbers

The FDIC reported that the number of banks on the "problem bank" list grew to 117 during the second quarter. That's the highest level since the middle of 2003.

There were 90 banks on the problem list in the first quarter of this year. The FDIC chairman also said that list is going to grow. In fact, analysts say that there could be up to 150 bank failures on the horizon.

But keep in mind that banks included on the problem list are considered the most likely institutions to fail, although few institutions actually reach that point - just 13% of banks on the FDIC's problem list have failed on average.

And let's put this in perspective - the FDIC insures more than 8,000 thrifts and banks. And this is nothing like what we saw during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when more than 1,000 financial institutions failed amid the savings-and-loan crisis.

2. Get the ranking

Generally small and mid-size banks are more at risk - that's because they may not be able to raise enough money if they are in trouble. If you're looking to park your money somewhere safe, go with larger, more familiar banks.

The FDIC doesn't release the names of banks that are in trouble, but you can check the health of your own bank. Check out This site will has a safe & sound rating system that can help you get a picture of your bank's health.

If you want more detailed information about your bank's financials, you can go to

3. Know the signs

Bottom line is that financial institutions are having a tough time. So, while it may just be the environment right now, you want to pay attention to massive job layoffs or cutback in services.

If your bank doesn't accept new loan submissions that's a red flag. And if you start to see generous CD yields advertised, that could be a sign that the bank is in trouble. That's because banks are trying to entice people to keep their money at the bank.

As we've been reporting, if you are within the limits of FDIC-insurance coverage with an FDIC-insured bank, you shouldn't panic. The worst move you could make is pulling your money out of a regulated institution and holding the cash yourself.

4. Don't Panic

The FDIC is not required to reimburse you for anything above the covered amount. But there are some cases where you'll be ok. For example, you may qualify for more than $100,000 if there are accounts in different "ownership categories."

For example, your share of any joint account at a bank is insured up to $100,000 separately from accounts you hold in your name alone.

And the bank can also choose to pay for uninsured deposits if it raises enough money after selling off the banks assets.  To top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and
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