Robert Haines, president of the Virgin Islands Bankers Association, said Tuesday that Virgin Islands banks are ready for the switch to the new millennium.
"All of the territory's banks, both large and small, are testing and re-testing their systems to be sure that it will be business as usual during the change to 2000," Haines said. "Next month, next year and every day, the safest place for your money is in the bank."
Tom Bolt, legal counsel for the Bankers Association, said it is particularly important for people to know V.I. banks are completely Y2K compliant because attempts have begun to defraud consumers.
Scam artists are telling consumers to pull their money out of the banks and turn it over to them to hold until after the new year, according to the bankers.
Haines, the local vice president for Scotiabank, said that "all Virgin Islands banks are preparing in a similar fashion as they would for a hurricane, flood, or other potential crisis. We have backup plans, which include generators to keep electricity flowing, and alternative locations, so that it will be business as usual for all our customers."
Pilar de Jesus, chair of the Virgin Islands Bankers Association Community Relations Committee, said, "If you are concerned about your bank, stop by for a visit, or call them to hear about the many things they are doing to keep your money safe and accessible."
In conjunction with the bankers' press statement, the Community Relations Committee also released a set of Y2K consumer tips for Virgin Islands bank customers:
1. Stay informed. Read the Y2K information your bank sends you.
2. If you don't already, keep your bank statements and records of your transactions, particularly the months just before the date change.
3. If you bank on-line, make sure your computer is Y2K compliant. Most computer and software manufacturers have extensive Websites on their products' readiness. Keep a backup disk of your records.
4. Avoid scam artists who offer to "hold" your money through the date change. The safest place for your money is in the bank.
5. During the date change, take out only as much cash as you would need for any long holiday weekend. If you feel you need more, your bank will be ready.
"Over the past year, Virgin Islands banks have become community leaders on Y2K by helping their customers, including businesses, learn about the issue and make preparations," de Jesus said.
Virgin Islands banks have held small business seminars and are working with community groups and the local government to encourage readiness.