Hundreds of depositors, frightened by a rumor that their Paterson, N.J., savings and loan was closing its doors, streamed into the institution yesterday demanding their money. To stop the run, federal officials shut down the S&L last night and announced they would pay off depositors beginning Saturday.

Depositors, many of them Hispanic, told officials of rumors that a Spanish language radio station had broadcast information that the thrift was closed. One official said the Hispanic community in Paterson may have been made uneasy by the recent failure of two unchartered and uninsured Washington firms that offered banking services to Hispanics.

The Paterson S&L, United Savings Bank, is federally insured and has been operating under federal conservatorship since May. The Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency running the thrift, said United will be liquidated and all insured depositors paid in the next few days.

Some depositors who feared losing their money suffered stiff penalties for making early withdrawals yesterday, according to government officials.

"They didn't need to do this," said RTC official John Quinn. Those who waited, he said, will be paid on their deposits in full, up to the limit of $100,000 per account.

There were long lines at teller windows and a lobby full of people as soon as United opened yesterday morning, according to officials of the RTC.

Thrift employees cashed out accounts as quickly as possible to prevent the lines from spilling out into the street and intensifying the run.

Despite the crush of business, there was no shortage of funds at the counter.

"We wanted to make certain there was enough cash on hand, so we had cash delivered from the Federal Reserve," RTC spokeswoman Andrea Plater said.

The RTC said it expects losses to the government from the closure of United to total $24.5 million.

-- Susan Schmidt