Three of every four adults polled by the Gallup Organization said their banks have not talked to them about the year-2000 problem, federal regulators said Thursday.
Moreover, 42% percent of the 2,700 adults surveyed by Gallup in March say they believe ATM machines will not work because of the millennium bug, and 38% think checks will bounce.
Part of the problem, Gallup concluded, may be that banks are communicating using statement stuffers, which many customers do not read. A better approach might include personalized letters from the bank's president, Gallup said.
The purpose of the $300,000 study, paid for by federal bank and thrift regulators, was to get into the heads of bank customers, assess their last- minute cash-withdrawal plans, and find out which year-2000 messages are the most calming.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Reserve Bank will send copies of the study, along with a three-page summary, to every federally regulated bank and thrift.
Regulators will use the findings to develop a coordinated approach for reassuring bank customers in the waning months of 1999. That plan includes a series of media interviews and public appearances by the heads of the four agencies.