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Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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Where Do You Keep Your Valuables? Safe Deposit Box, Home Safe?

POSTED ON BY

A DepositAccounts.com reader brought to my attention a break-in of a private vault service in Las Vegas that happened last month. He had a box at that place, but his box wasn't affected. I had not been aware of these types of services. They are a lot like safe deposit boxes from banks. However, they offer more privacy. As you might guess, these types of private safe-deposit box firms are often accused of being used by criminals who want to hide their ill-gotten gains. The DA reader mentioned that this service appealed to him since it allowed 24/7 access without requiring an ID. For customer verification, the service uses bio metric scan of a customer's iris. The place did have a lot of security, but it wasn't enough to prevent the break-in.

My feeling is that a bank safe deposit box provides more security against theft than these private vault services. There have been cases of robbers breaking in to bank safe deposit boxes, but these are very rare. It's important to note that FDIC insurance only covers deposit accounts. It provides no coverage of safe deposit box contents. Also, you shouldn't expect the bank to reimburse you for theft of or damage to the contents of your safe deposit box. This was one of 5 safe deposit box tips provided by this FDIC consumer news article.

A more common issue with safe deposit boxes is the ease of access to your box. Your heirs could have trouble accessing the box after your death. DA reader pearlbrown provided this useful tip about what not to put into a safe deposit box:

I would never put originals of documents such as wills, trusts, or power of attorney documents in a safe deposit box unless the person who might need access to them also has access to the box. Copies, yes, but originals never. A safety deposit box could be sealed for weeks after a death and the person who is to act as your executor could be caught in a drawn-out and expensive legal catch-22 (they need the original document to demonstrate that they are the executor and have access to the box but the document is inside the box).

Another potential issue with safe deposit boxes is the possibility that the contents in the box will be escheated (turned over to the government) if a box is dormant. This can occur even if all rent payments have been made. This article describes how this happened to a California woman who had a box at her local Bank of America branch.

With the issues and costs of safe deposit boxes, home safes may be more appealing. But there are still risks of theft, fire and flood.

Poll Question: Where do you keep your valuables?

So that leads me to this poll question: Where do you keep your valuables and important documents? Do you only use a safe deposit box? only a home safe? Or do you use both? If you use a private vault service or if you don't use anything, choose "other".



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Comments
12 Comments.
Comment #1 by I hate Fort Knox CU (anonymous) posted on
I hate Fort Knox CU
The biggest risk with home safes is a home invasion where they pistol whip the man or threaten the woman in order to get one of the residents to lead them to their valuables and open their safe.

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Comment #2 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
I wonder what the chances are of that happening?  Home invasions are rare.   The bank gave me a safety depoist box for free in the 90's.  The cost got so high I bought a home safe about the cost of a 2 year rental.

1
Comment #3 by Paoli2 posted on
Paoli2
Making it known you have a bank safe deposit box or one at home advertises to thieves that you have valuables.  Why put oneself at risk if you don't have to.  There are other places to protect valuables which do not put one at risk.  I suggest you come up with other ideas and make sure only trustworthy family members know what it is.  Just my opinion.

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Comment #4 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Ken, I will never disclose such personal info, what are you trying to do, give the thieves tips on where to look for?

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Comment #5 by mrvirgo posted on
mrvirgo
I keep my valuables in a fireproof metal box that looks like a small suitcase. The key is in the lock since the only things in the box are important papers like the deed to my house, my passport, birthcirtificate etc. In other words nothing worth a thief's time and effort. I gave up on bank deposit boxes; the free ones were never avilable. 

1
Comment #6 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
This post brings back memories of my beloved, deceased mom and what different people think of as valuables.  She always kept her valuables (a few quarters) sewn in a handkerchief pinned inside her slip.  Her reasoning was that if any skunk tried to get them they would have to fight her first.  You would not have wanted to tackle that lady!  But to her, being poor, those few quarters were as valuable as thousands of dollars others on this thread might protect in a bank or home safe.    Her few quarters were enough to feed us a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs.  How times have changed!

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Comment #7 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Several banks just have locked boxes now. They do not require ID to get into the box. The person who rented the box has 2 keys and whoever has the key can get in the box. The old safety deposit boxes were inside a bank vault and would require ID, a signature and time in and time out and both the banks and owners keys were required to be used at the same time to open the box.

4
Comment #8 by Banxman (anonymous) posted on
Banxman
I had the same idea as Anonymous - #2, For $500, I purchased a decent sized 475 lb. safe that sits on wheels. It's fireproof, so it's perfect fpr important papers and other valuables. Since I don't keep cash in there, cracking the safe would not benefit  burglars, even if they had the time and skill.

1
Comment #9 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Why dont you try THE AMERICAN GUARDIAN in las vegas, it's a private vaults and safe deposit boxes rental facility.

the-american-guardian.com good luck !

1
Comment #10 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Thank you so much for the advice about "The American Guardian" i went there and it's great ! got myself a safe deposit box in 5 mins :)

1
Comment #11 by kmd (anonymous) posted on
kmd
Check out SDBIC, the only company now offering safe deposit box owners insurance to cover loss of contents due to natural disasters and man-made events.

1
Comment #12 by Anonymous posted on
Anonymous
Don't be deceived, into believing your valuables are safe at U.S. Private Vaults because they're not. In spite of the bank-like appearance, this is NOT A BANK. Banks operate with multiple, built-in safeguards to protect the contents of your safe deposit box from theft by employees, former employees, friends of employees, maintenance personnel, independent contractors, ect., who have access to spare keys.    This business isn't required to conduct a criminal background check on their employees, or vet them in any way. Employees, past and present, can come and go at will, including the owners and employees of the adjacent business, Olympic Gold which has the exact same address. U.S. Private Vaults & Olympic Gold are under the same roof and separated by a wall with a door, that swings both ways. Step inside either business and see for yourself.    There just isn't a good enough reason to trust this place and that's exactly what you're doing with your valuables; trusting them AND THEIR JUDGEMENT. You really don't know these people at all, so get a real safe deposit box at a real bank and avoid this hole-in-the-wall pretender.

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