NYT’s Ron Leiber breaks down what you need to know and do if you are or were a customer of Merrill Lynch, Lehman, or AIG…
Merrill: If your broker leaves, you have to decide whether you want to go with him. Whether you come along or wait for Bank of America to take over, you will lose access to your funds for a week or two until the new computer systems take over.
Lehman: The brokerage unit didn’t file for bankruptcy, the parent unit did. So for now, customers’ brokerage accounts remain as normal. Eventually, though, they will get transferred.
AIG: While the situation is dire, they’re still in business. Your life insurance policies are still good. If they go bust, state bodies known as guaranty funds will step in and cover unpaid claims and pay out policies.
The integration of different computer databases is always an opportunity for accounts getting messed up or lost. Make sure you have printouts of your recent statement and have all your account numbers and access codes memorized or written down somewhere.