Is a cracker box safer than a bank? Maybe so, even if the box gets lost!
Updated Dec 29th 2008 12:35PMBeth PinskerDec 29th 2008 3:00PM
Perhaps it pays to buy organic...A family shopping at Whole Foods brought home a box of Annie's Sour Cream and Onion Cheddar Bunnies and instead of cheese crackers inside found an envelope with $10,000. The funds turned out to be the life savings of an elderly woman who had such mistrust for banks these days that she was stashing her money in her pantry. Her problem was that she returned the wrong box of crackers to the store.
At first glance, this story sounds like the tale of a nice family that wasn't duly rewarded. At least, the punchline is that the family gave this woman back her life savings and all they got was a lousy box of crackers -- no thank you or reward.
PFF Bank and Trust PFF Bank and Trust of Pomona, Calif., was closed down on Nov. 21, in a transaction facilitated by the Office of Thrift Supervision and the FDIC. Its accounts were transferred to U.S. Bank, National Association, of Cincinnati. Click here for more information on PFF Bank and Trust
Security Pacific Bank On Nov. 7, California regulators closed down Security Pacific Bank of Los Angeles, the 19th FDIC-insured bank to be seized this year. Security Pacific's accounts were moved to Pacific Western Bank of Los Angeles. Click here for more information on Security Pacific Bank
But there are so many other things going on with this story, and the most important of them is that this elderly woman had very good reason to fear banks at this time -- the list of bank closings just keeps on growing. Judging by her shopping list, this wasn't some woman with Depression-era syndrome, hiding her money away in her mattress or an empty can of green beans. She shopped at Whole Foods and bought organic crackers. She made what seems to many to be a completely rational decision to pull her money out of her bank.
What would have happened to her life savings had her bank shut down? Since she was under the FDIC limit, her funds would have been safe as long as her bank was among the insured and her money was in an insured account. But it's possible she could have lost her money.
Her little mistake in returning the box of crackers to the store seems risky, but really it's not that much more risky than the bank, in the end, given the crazy times we live in. The big question mark, however, is how the crackers got back on the shelf. Does Whole Foods regularly restock returned merchandise? In this case, the box was obviously opened.
I have no doubt that most families would have turned in the money in the end, even if they did agonize over it for a bit. Times are tough, but that kind of weird windfall would scare most people and they'd want an explanation to make sure they weren't getting proceeds from something bad.