Posted by: Kelley Dees | August 23, 2012

Safe-Deposit Boxes: Not so safe?

Are the contents of your safe-deposit box at the bank really secure? Today, we’ll answer this question and we’ll help you find ways to keep your valuables as safe as possible.

A safe-deposit box is definitely better than a shoebox for storing important documents and valuables, but it is not impenetrable. According to David McGuinn, president of Safe Deposit Specialists, “Safe-deposit boxes are loss resistant, not loss proof.” This means they are less likely to be lost, but not guaranteed. Also, the contents aren’t insured unless you cover them in your homeowner’s or renter’s policy. Below, some easy ways to protect the contents of your box:

  • Go for the vault. Though self-service boxes are easy to access (some even 24 hours a day), they’re by definition not as secure as those in a bank vault.
  • Pick a co-tenant with care. You want someone else to have access to your box in the event of a disability or death, “but you don’t want a child with a drug problem to use it as a personal treasury” according to McGuinn.
  • Seal your stuff. Boxes can get flooded, so pack whatever you store in watertight plastic bags.
  • Create a cyber-backup. Several banks and online vendors offer “virtual safe-deposit boxes” where digital copies of documents can be stored. Be careful to select a vendor with a good online reputation.
  • Pay the box rent. If you don’t, the state can seize the contents as unclaimed property.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

This information is adapted from AARP Magazine, November & December 2009: Not-So-Safe Deposits.

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