Locals and experts weigh in on bank security

by Emaryi Williams-

22 Mar. – Everyday banking involves ATM machines similar to this Truist one, located on the Virginia Tech campus. (Photo: Emaryi Williams)

The collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank on Friday, March 10, and the closure of Signature Bank that following Sunday have raised new questions about banking in the United States.

People in the New River Valley (NRV) are sharing their thoughts as well.

“It’s kind of worrying, I hope they [banks] are keeping our money secure,” said Margaret Greene.

“Personally, I’m not worried about it,” said Will Coleman, “I’m insured to get paid back.”

According to the Federal Deposit of Insurance Corporation (FDIC), numerous bank failures have occurred throughout the Commonwealth, dating back to 1935. Some banks within the NRV have come close to failing and needed assistance, with the latest happening in Blacksburg at the First of Montgomery County Bank and in Wytheville at the Mountain Security SB in 1986. 

21 Mar. – The Atlantic Union bank building is located on Arbor Dr. in Christiansburg, and it hosts two other businesses on its second and third floors. (Photo: Emaryi Williams)

Assistant Branch Manager of the Atlantic Union Bank in Christiansburg, Tiffany Shepherd said while people are worried about their coverage, recognizing the difference between types of banks is key to soothing fears.

“They were rapid growth banks. They had a lot of dealings with start-up companies, cryptocurrency, and investing in those types of things”  Shepherd said.

Shepherd explained that problems with Silicon Valley and Signature Bank occurred when their investments went downhill and people began pulling money out. She said people who bank with more traditional banks will most likely not experience that problem.

“We’re [Atlantic Union] more of a traditional bank, like the bigger banks you see around – like Wells Fargo and Tuist,” Shepherd said. “The way we invest and do our assets is a little different than the way that they do.”

22 Mar. – Student in the NRV withdrawing money from a traditional bank ATM machine. (Photo: Emaryi Williams)

If a bank does fail, Shepherd said due to insurance provided by the FDIC, people are covered up to $250,000. 

“Assuming that these banks had something in place because they are required to by law, they had customers come and close out their accounts and move it to another bank,” she said.

The assistant bank manager said that banks and even credit unions are insured by either the FDIC or the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). The rule of coverage is one of the ways people can protect their monetary assets.

“Say you have an account that you’re on by yourself, you are covered up to $250,000. Say you add someone on the account as a joint, then they also are insured up to $250,000…so the more people you have on that account, the better it is,” Shepherd explained.

Shepherd said while traditional banks are solid and it has been 121 years since Atlantic Union has experienced even a quarterly loss, she understood that people might still want extra assurance. Shepherd advised worried individuals to use the FDIC’s EDIE calculator.

“You can go in and put in all of your accounts, how they’re set up – with you, or joint owners, or payable on death – and it’ll show you if you’re covered or not. That way, you’ll know if you need to do something to make sure you’re fully covered,” Shepherd said.

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