Down the street from the corporate headquarters in Calabasas, deposit holders besieged a Countrywide retail branch yesterday morning. The outlet had only one banking representative and one mortgage officer on hand, and they compiled a waiting list to handle the heavy flow of clients anxious about the security of their certificates of deposit, savings and checking accounts.
Although the FDIC guarantees deposits at Countrywide up to a limit of about $100,000, Leilani Tedeski rushed in from neighboring Woodland Hills to withdraw a $20,000 CD that matured earlier in the week. Until a few days ago, "I was thinking I would roll it over. But I am managing this for my parents, and I want to move it somewhere where I know it will be safe," Ms. Tedeski said.
She said that she has other Countrywide CDs that haven't matured, and she inquired about early withdrawal penalties. The Countrywide officer who attended to Ms. Tedeski sought to reassure her about the company's financial health and the federal insurance that applied to her deposits. Still, she said, "I will have to think about the risks of keeping the CDs," she says.
The majority of customers who camped out in the Countrywide branch were senior citizens worried about their retirement nest eggs. One man who declined to identify himself said he had just withdrawn all his deposits in Countrywide checking and savings accounts.
Interesting that this is happening in the hometown of Countrywide's headquarters. Think people in the community are seeing or hearing things from Countrywide's corporate insiders? Eh, maybe it's just that Countrywide's troubles are getting big play in the local news.