To protect valuable documents, collectibles, and irreplaceable heirlooms, bank safe deposit boxes are a trusted form of storage that will cost you less than $5 a month. If you are concerned about theft from your safe deposit box, the following tips will help you feel confident about using a bank safe deposit box.
Concerned About Theft by Bank Employees
This is the top concern voiced by potential safe deposit box renters. However, a safe deposit box is not like a public storage unit. Its contents are guarded by the bank with a "triple-redundant" security system.
- First, the safe deposit box is in a secure area, in the bank vault. Bank customers are not allowed open access to this area. You must sign in with bank security staff to enter the vault.
- Second, the safe deposit box is filled with others in its own locked wall shelf. This safe deposit filing system looks like a mailbox wall, with each box in its own numbered slot. A bank security person must unlock the slot to remove your safe deposit box.
- Third, your safe deposit box itself has 2 keys: one is the guard key used by the bank, and the other is your own key. You pay a deposit fee and sign for when you arrange for the box. The bank security person puts in his or her key, turns it and takes it out. Then you put in your key and release the lock.
Also, for your protection, a fourth security measure is in place. Not more than one bank customer can be in the safe deposit box viewing area at a time. The bank security guard leaves you alone in this area which prevents other customers or bank employees from viewing what is in your safe deposit box.
How to Use Your Deposit Box Even More Securely
- Do not put your passport in your safe deposit box. You may need it quickly or for emergency travel.
- Do not put your original will or power of attorney documents in the box either because upon your death, your safe deposit box will be temporarily sealed. Do not store cash in your safe deposit box.
- Keep your safe deposit box in your hands when you take it to the viewing area, until it is back in the wall slot. Also, hold your key in your hand at all times. Open and relock the box yourself.
- Pay your annual rental fee by automatic withdrawal, and check your statement to ensure the charge is processed. This will prevent your box from being declared "unclaimed" by the bank, and its contents withdrawn and put up for sale.
- Visit your box twice a year. Photograph the content of the box, and put a written inventory into the safe deposit box. Keep a copy at home with your insurance papers. If you ever notice anything missing from the box, report it to the bank manager immediately.
Taking these few commonsense precautions will eliminate the chance of theft from your safe deposit box and ensure your peace of mind.