Safe deposit boxes are supposed to be a secure place where you can store valuables. Opening a safe deposit box with a bank should allow you a secure place to keep jewelry, grant deeds, birth certificates, or any other valuables and important documents without worry. The truth is this is not always the case when it comes to a safe deposit box. The question remains, how safe are your bank’s safe deposit boxes? Bank robberies are gradually becoming a thing of the past, but it still happens. What people have to be more concerned about these days is whether or not a bank does not mistakenly grant someone else access to their belongings. One mistake on the bank’s end could result in irreplaceable valuables lost.
Safety starts with the bank
The house you live in is only as safe as your neighborhood. The same can be said about safe deposit boxes. A deposit box is only as safe as the bank in which it resides. Just as you would shop around for a home in a safe neighborhood, take the time to find a bank that offers a secure place to store items in a safe deposit box. Consider some questions to ask yourself before making a decision to open a deposit box in a particular bank.
Is the safe deposit box located behind a vault? How secure does the bank look? Is there security or cameras around to deter theft? You are also going to want analyze how well the service is at the bank. Do the employees appear competent? Or do you think this is a place where a mix up might happen? Humans are not perfect, but some places are more prone to mistakes than others. The ideal safe deposit box is located in a bank with staff that appear presentable and behind a vault with security and cameras.
Tips when opening a safe deposit box
Before you decide to open a safe deposit box, remember that there are a couple of things to consider.
Grant limited access when it comes to who can access the safety deposit box. You may want to limit it to a spouse, parent, or child. The bank keeps records of who accesses the box. So if something goes missing you can narrow down the blame to either the bank or someone that has access. If recent logs show no one has accessed the account, then it is a safe bet that the bank is at fault.
On the rare occasion that you find something inside of your safe deposit box, make sure you know your state’s laws. States such as New York have a “Finders Keepers Law” that allows you to keep property turned in after one year if no one claims it. Do not wind up like the woman that found an extra $100,000 in safety deposit box, but had the money seized by the bank with no explanation.
Remember, the FDIC does not insure safety deposit boxes. Refer to the FDIC website for up-to-date deposit insurance rules
Go with your gut
Safety deposit boxes are perfect places to store valuables if you do not feel they are safe at home or with a relative. Only open a deposit box with a bank that you feel is honest and reliable. If the tellers or manager makes you feel uncomfortable, or the security does not look up-to-par with your standards, open an account elsewhere. When you do find a secure bank then go ahead and open up a safe deposit box. The majority of the time your belongings will be fine and secure.