WASHINGTON - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Wednesday started operating its new call center - the agency's primary point of contact with the banking community. The new number, 877-275-3342 (877 ASK-FDIC), replaces a consumer hotline and an ombudsman's toll-free number.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to answer questions about the agency. Recorded information about deposit insurance and employment opportunities at the FDIC is available 24 hours a day at the toll-free number. Callers in Washington may dial 202-736-0000.

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