These questions and answers are for consumers of financial products seeking answers regarding Banking questions. If you are a business, Industry or regulated entity, please check our industry questions.

Are only residents of New York State eligible for the services of the HCPO?

No, you do not have to be a resident of New York State to seek our assistance. The HCPO accepts claims from any state or from any country. 

What types of claims can be filed with the HCPO?

The HCPO accepts claims for bank accountsinsurance policies, and/or works of art.

Where can I get assistance with other types of claims not handled by the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HPCO)?

Access the Compensation Guide to Worldwide Compensation and Restitution Programs for Eligible Jewish Victims of Nazi Persecution, available on the website of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Does it cost anything to file a claim with the HCPO?

No.  Claimants pay no fee for the HCPO’s services, nor does the HCPO take a percentage of the value of the assets recovered. 

What is the difference between the HCPO and the private entities accepting claims?

  • The HCPO works as a bridge between claimants and the various international compensation organizations and/or the current holder(s) of the asset be it a bank account, insurance policy or artwork.
  • Claimants pay no fee for the HCPO’s services, nor does the HCPO take a percentage of the value of the assets recovered. 
  • Our goal is to advocate for claimants by helping to alleviate any cost and bureaucratic hardships they might encounter in trying to pursue claims on their own. 

What happens after I file my claim to the HCPO?

  • After assessing the viability of a claim, the HCPO strives to document the prewar ownership, wartime loss and a claimant’s postwar entitlement to an asset. 
  • HCPO staff members undertake three types of research: (1) genealogical; (2) archival research for prewar, wartime, and postwar records; and (3) the search for the missing objects, provenance research being one component of this effort.
  • Once all of the HCPO’s research is complete, and the missing asset has been located, our role changes from that of detective to advocate and facilitator.
  • At this stage the HCPO submits claim information to the appropriate companies, authorities, museums, or organizations with the request that a complete and thorough search be made.

Can the HCPO guarantee the return of my assets?

Unfortunately, the HCPO cannot guarantee the recovery of assets. It is important to realize that the submission of a claim does not in any way ensure the return of any assets.

My local bank branch is closing. Can’t you do something about it?

State-chartered institutions must give notice to the Department of their intent to close a branch office at least 90 days in advance of the planned closing. In its notice, the bank must provide specific information, including, but not limited to, a statement of the reasons leading to the decision to close the branch, and a detailed map of the area served by the branch, showing the distance and direction of all remaining banks and state-licensed financial service providers. In addition, the bank must provide notice to its branch customers and post notice of its intent to close the branch on the same day that it submitted notice thereof to the Department.

Notice of the planned closing is published in the Department’s Weekly Banking Bulletin, commencing a public comment period. All comments are carefully reviewed and responded to by a Community Reinvestment Analyst, and public comments are shared with the bank for its response. Based on information provided by the bank and gathered from other sources, the Department is then required to make a finding of whether the closing would result in a "significant reduction of banking services" in the community to be affected. While the Department engages in substantial outreach to government officials, community groups and banking institutions in this context, it must be noted that we have no authority whatsoever to prohibit the closing of a bank branch. The Department’s outreach, however, may facilitate contact between the institution and the community, and ultimately mitigate a potentially adverse impact on the community.

While the Department performs thorough analyses of all branch-closing notifications, staff focuses on those that may impact low or moderate-income communities. If the closing branch or its service area includes low or moderate income areas, or if it appears that the closing may reduce services for residents in the community, Department staff routinely contact local planning departments, community groups or leaders in order to: (1) learn more about the nature of the community to be affected; (2) gather other qualified opinions about the impact of the branch closing on the community; and (3) facilitate dialogue between the bank and the community about local concerns, including, but not limited to, future access to branch services, and seeking an appropriate purchaser or successor tenant for the site. In some instances, Department staff makes site visits to the closing branch’s service area. Under the appropriate circumstances, the Department may bring issues to the attention of bank management, and ask the bank to reconsider the closing, or consider taking steps to mitigate the impact of the closing.

Is there anything I can do about a planned branch closing?

The Department encourages the public to comment on a proposed closing. Anyone may submit a letter of protest regarding the closing to the Department of Financial Services. We often receive such comments after a patron has seen the closing notice in their branch, or has received notification by mail. Many community leaders also have a subscription to the Weekly Banking Bulletin, which publishes all notices. Please forward your comments regarding branch closings via email or mail comments to New York State Department of Financial Services, Community Development Unit, One State Street New York, NY 10004-1417

I deposited a check in my bank but the bank has not credited my account. How long does it take for a check to clear?

The availability of funds is governed by Regulation CC of the Federal Reserve Board and Part 34 of N.Y.S. General Regulations of the Banking Board. Funds availability generally depends upon three characteristics: a) Where the check is drawn (e.g., local or out-of-town institution), b) Dollar amount of the deposit, and c) The issuer of the check (e.g., governmental units or private sector). Financial institutions are required to post a notice of its funds availability policy pertaining to consumer accounts in each location where its employees accept consumer deposits.

I deposited a check in my account. The bank teller gave me back a stamped copy of a deposit slip, then the bank lost my check and said they could not credit my account until I contacted the writer of the check. Why?

A check is deposited subject to collection, and any credit that you may receive until the check clears is temporary. Under the New York Uniform Commercial Code, the funds are not actually credited to your account until your bank is paid by the check writer's bank. If your bank loses the check after the deposit, you are responsible for contacting the maker of the check to determine whether the check was indeed cashed or to have the maker put a stop payment order on the check and reissue a new check.

The bank I went to would not cash my payroll check. Can someone call and tell the bank to cash my check?

A bank has the right not to cash your check if you do not have an account relationship with it. However, your employer can make arrangements with the bank to cash payroll checks.

How long is a personal check valid?

Six months. A bank is not obligated to honor the check after the validity date.

What is the maximum amount in my account that is insured?

Up to $250,000 per depositor is insured. Multiple accounts at a single bank are aggregated for insurance purposes. For more information about insurance of bank deposits, contact the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation at 877-275-3342.

I found an old passbook. Whom do I contact about getting my money back?

Contact the Office of Unclaimed Funds in the State Comptroller's office at the Alfred E. Smith Office Building, Albany, New York 12236. The Office can be reached at 1-800-221-9311 from within New York State, or at (518) 270-2200

from outside New York State. All abandoned property from financial institutions is delivered to the State Comptroller's Office after remaining unclaimed for a period of time but may be reclaimed at a later time. The period differs according to the type of property.

I went to a local check casher who would not cash my check saying that it was more than one week old. Can they do that?

Yes. Check cashers can choose which checks to cash.

My accounts have become delinquent due to some unfortunate circumstances, and creditors are harassing me by calling at all hours of day and night. What are my rights?

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has prescribed certain criteria to be followed by collectors. The New York General Business Law, Sections 600, 601 and 602, also set forth prohibited practices and penalties. The hours from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. are considered permissible for collectors to call.

My bank is foreclosing on my house because I'm several months late in making payments, and the bank won't accept partial payments. What can I do?

If you are seriously behind in your payments on your home, car, or other personal property, you may be in jeopardy and should contact an attorney, financial advisor, budget planner or a consumer help group for assistance in trying to work out a repayment program with your institution.

What is the maximum interest rate I can be charged by the bank issuing my credit card?

Generally, the rate that may be charged is the rate permitted in the Bank's home state. This is determined by either the State Banking Department which has chartered the bank or it is specified in that state's statutory code. A New York State-chartered bank may charge whatever interest rate the bank and the customer agree to; as a practical matter, however, the maximum rate is 25%, the criminal usury rate.

Are credit card solicitations received in the mail legitimate?

It is not unlawful for a bank or credit card company to solicit you to apply for a credit card through the mail. If you are being asked to pay an upfront fee for the privilege of receiving a credit card or you are not familiar with the reputation of the company soliciting your business, you should call the state bank regulator of the entity's headquarters state (if it is a state-chartered bank) or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (in the case of all national banks) to determine the legitimacy of the entity. Your local Better Business Bureau may also be helpful.

Additionally, Section 520 of the New York General Business Law requires that all application forms or pre-approved written solicitations to enter into a credit card agreement for personal, household or family purposes must contain certain disclosures (e.g. APR., annual fee, grace period for purchases) in a box form. A similar requirement is found in Regulation Z.

What can I do if I believe I have been discriminated against by a lender?

Section 296-a of the Executive Law provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any creditor to discriminate in the granting of credit on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, marital status or disability. Any person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice engaged in by a creditor may file a complaint with the New York Superintendent of Banks or the New York State Division of Human Rights. Procedures for filing complaints are contained in Sections 296-a and 297 of the Executive Law.