WASHINGTON (WCMH) — Stimulus checks are in the mail but a surprising number of Americans don’t have a safe place to put that money.
“There are many consumers who are so-called “unbanked” who don’t have savings and checking accounts,” said Leonard Chanin, deputy to the FDIC chairman.
Chanin says about eight million U.S. households don’t use a bank, which means more than 14 million Americans are getting a paper stimulus check.
“We’ve tried to give information to consumers to ensure that they are aware of opportunities out there,” Chanin said.
The FDIC wants all Americans without a bank account to get one. Officials say it’s a safer way to protect your stimulus money and faster if Congress issues more emergency funding in the future.
“There’s a delay in terms of the time it takes consumers to get checks versus automatic deposit,” Chanin said.
That delay can last weeks or even more than a month. Beyond that, the quarantine means fewer bank employees are at work as more banks move operations online.
“The other thing that’s important is particularly these days consumers may not have an easy time cashing those checks,” Chanin said.
He says because the FDIC insures banks for up to $250,000, there’s no reason for new account holders to worry about their money’s safety. He adds banks are making it easier for consumers to open accounts.
“There are a number of banks that will allow you to open accounts even without depositing funds initially,” Chanin said.
The FDIC also has a COVID-19 section on its website to help answer banking questions.