Depositors distressed over closings in R.I. Frustrated, many worry about future

January 03, 1991|By Elsa C. Arnett | Elsa C. Arnett,Boston Globe

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Nancy Kolman of Jamestown, R.I. is living a banking nightmare.

The state employee has her checking account, savings account, certificates of deposit and credit cards all in the Rhode Island State Employees Credit Union -- one of 45 banks and credit unions ordered closed Tuesday by Gov. Bruce G. Sundlun.

Now she's really in the lurch. For day-to-day cash, Ms. Kolman said, she will have to roll up the pennies, nickels and dimes in her piggy bank at home and use those.

"The bank has everything. I've only got $20 in my pocket and I don't know what I'm going to do," said Ms. Kolman, noting that she mailed 10 checks Monday to pay her VISA account, various department stores, the electric company and her car insurance company.

"I have to commute 60 miles a day to work, but my car insurance is going to be stopped. I'm not going to drive my car without insurance, so I'll to have to take the bus to work. On top of that, my rent is due Friday," she said.

Ms. Kolman, along with many of the Ocean State's 300,000 frustrated and anxious account holders, approached their banks and credit unions yesterday only to find the doors locked and their assets frozen.

Posted on the front doors of the banks: "Closed until further notice by order of the Governor of the state of Rhode Island."

For many, the next few days will be spent calling various information hot lines, meticulously allocating their cash, and calling landlords, utility companies and other creditors to negotiate payment extensions.

For the elderly, disabled and others who live on fixed incomes and have their Social Security checks deposited directly into their closed accounts, every day will be precarious.

At Greater Providence Deposit and Trust in Providence, a woman stared at the "closed" notice with tears streaming down her face.

"I've had all of my money in here since 1967," she said. "It's $10,000. It's my life savings, it's a lot to me. And now, I'm getting older, I might lose it all."

"This is a bombshell," said a retiree, as he stood outside the same bank. "I've got the rent to pay and groceries to buy. What am I supposed to do?"

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