The FNBO Direct 6% savings account promotion is so good that some may question the legitimacy of FNBO Direct. You should always remember the adage "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." After doing my own checks, I can say that I'm confident that they're a division of First National Bank of Omaha which is FDIC insured (FDIC Certificate # 5452). However, they didn't do a good job making it easy for people to verify this.
The problem with websites is that anyone can create a fancy website and say they're affiliated with some bank. One way I confirm that a website belongs to a bank is to check the FDIC database. If you click on the FDIC Certificate # link above, you'll see the FDIC page and the URL www.firstnational.com. This is a good check that the website does belong to the bank that's FDIC insured.
The problem when banks start an online division is that they often create a new domain name (i.e. fnbodirect.com) and this web address isn't listed in the FDIC database. There are a couple of ways banks can handle this. The best way is to do what Apple Bank for Savings did when they began their GrandYieldDirect online savings account. The GrandYieldDirect site uses the same domain name as the bank's main site. They also have their own domain name GrandYieldDirect.com but this points back to under the theapplebank.com domain which is listed at the FDIC page.
Another good way for a bank to handle an online division is to include a link on their main website pointing to the online bank website. This is what Emigrant Savings does with Emigrant Direct. Note how Emigrant Savings includes a link on the home page that points to Emigrant Direct. You can see Emigrant.com listed at this FDIC page.
Seems like many banks don't want to advertise their online division. Perhaps they're afraid that their customers at their brick-and-mortar branches will learn how much better deal they could get if they went online. So there's no link at the main bank's website pointing to the online bank website. Since the FDIC page only has the main bank's website address, there's no easy way to prove the legitimacy of the online bank.
One clever way to prove this link without tiping off the brick-and-mortar customers is the method used by Direct Huntington. The online bank website instructs the customer to enter a code into the "Special Offers" box of the bank's main website. When you enter this code, you're forwarded to the Direct Huntington website. This proves the connection between main bank's website and the online bank website.
The problem with FNBO Direct is the same problem seen at AmTrustDirect. There's no link from the online bank website to the main bank's website that's listed at the FDIC. One way to check out FNBODirect.com is to check the whois info. The information listed does show First National Bank of Omaha as the registrant. However, I have a feeling the domain registrars may not check the information they're given. So for FNBO Direct, it's good to contact First National Bank of Omaha and verify this for yourself. In February, I called and confirmed FNBO Direct was their online division. Today I sent them a message using their email form. They responded with the following:
Please be advised, FNBO Direct is a division of First National Bank of Omaha. The FNBO Direct savings account is FDIC insured.
So now I'm 100% confident in FNBO Direct's legitimacy. It would have been a lot easier if they would have followed the examples of Emigrant, Apple Bank for Savings or Huntington.
For more info on this 6% promotion and FNBO Direct please refer to: