One of the nation's regulators responsible for protecting U.S. bank deposits assured Americans that their money is safe in federally insured banks, even as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to cause an economic catastrophe that rivals the 2008 financial crisis.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a statement Wednesday reminding Americans that FDIC-insured banks remain the "safest place to keep their money."
"Since 1933, no depositor has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds," the agency said its statement.
The agency also issued a warning about an increase in scams while the nation deals with the fallout of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The FDIC said it has seen an uptick in calls, text messages, letters and emails from scammers pretending to be agency representatives. The scammers often falsely claim that banks are limiting access to deposits, or that there are security issues with bank deposits.
In addition, the scammers ask customers for personal information including bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, birthdays and other details that can be used to commit fraud.
Established in 1933 in response to the large number of bank failures during the Great Depression, the FDIC insures up to $250,000 per depositor at thousands of federally backed U.S. banks.
"Customers' deposits remain safe in these banks, as does customer access to their funds. Banks continue to offer ATM, mobile, or online banking services, and many continue to provide services via drive-through window," the agency said.
Banks are not at risk of failure, and the FDIC's "troubled bank" list is at an all-time low.
The FDIC's statement comes amid growing worry about the virus outbreak and its impact on the U.S. economy. Efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus have already led to thousands of lay-offs, with officials warning the number of Americans who lose their jobs in March could exceed a million, threatening to plunge the nation into a deep recession.
Stock markets have also plummeted, erasing the majority of their gains from the past three years.
The White House and Congress have passed two stimulus packages, including $8.3 billion in funding for prevention efforts and research, and a bill that extends paid sick leave to most Americans and provides free testing for COVID-19.
Work is currently underway on a third package that could cost as much as $1 trillion and would include a bailout for hard-hit industries like the airlines and $1,000 cash checks for most Americans.