How Safe is a Safe Deposit Box?

Safe deposit boxes were first introduced in the 19th century by the African-American inventor, Henry Brown, as a safe way to store valuable items and documents. This system of storage would be adopted by the banks in the years to come. Though after all this time that has passed you may wonder, how safe is a safe deposit box today?

The main idea behind a safe deposit box was to provide an alternative to storing important documents and valuables in your house. For a long time the immediate solution has been to pay your bank to store items such as: heirlooms, jewellery, collectibles like stamps and coins, precious metals, and important documents such as deeds and birth certificates.

Typically you would employ the use of a safe deposit box service in order to protect your possessions from the threat of theft and damage from fire, flood and other natural disasters. Safe deposit boxes were designed specifically to be fireproof up to a certain temperature and traditionally stored in secure storage facilities, within a vault guarded by a high level of security.

Bank Safe Deposit Boxes are not as Safe as they Seem

However, despite all precautionary measures, banking institutions have repeatedly appeared in the news world-wide, accused of misplacing contents of safe deposit boxes. Just this year, The New York Times wrote of Philip Poniz who, over his lifetime, gathered an impressive collection of valuable watches. Wanting to move his collection from his house to a more secure location, Mr. Poniz turned to his local bank where he opened a safe deposit box in 1983.

Over the next two decades Mr. Poniz would add to his life’s collection and he was proud to see all the years of hard work on view when ever he paid a visit to his bank. However, in 2014, then in his 60s, Mr. Poniz opened his safe deposit box to discover that it was empty.

Further investigation revealed that after the bank changed owners numerous times, the bank staff erroneously mistook Mr. Poniz’s safe deposit box as belonging to a customer who had failed to make their payments. Subsequently Mr.Poniz’s safe deposit box was drilled open and the contents, with a combined value of over $10 million, were removed.

While Mr. Poniz manage to recover most of the items, this one concerning story sits among many and emphasises others complications surrounding traditional bank safe deposit box systems that have become more apparent. Issues surrounding insurance and liability are known to greatly compromise the future safety of your possessions. 

In the event that treasured belongings do go missing, banks have notoriously fought taking accountability and providing adequate compensation to customers. Not to mention that insurance is not included and that in 2018 Bank Bail-In laws became a reality in Australia, further adding to the confusion and lack of confidence in the banking sector.

A New Era of Safety Deposit Box Storage Emerges

Today, independent storage facilities are reinstating safe deposit boxes as a relevant option for storing your valuables. With multiple sizings and storage options available, these services proudly hand control over to you with exclusive access to your safe deposit box and absolute privacy guarded by the highest level of security.

At Private Vaults Australia, we offer secure storage options guarded by multiple layers of protection and access ensured by a unique pin-code, facial recognition technology, guard supervision, supervised entry, and secured by special reinforced walls and ceilings, seismic and vibration sensors, 360 degree movement and microwave sensors plus 24-hour CCTV with class 1 monitoring.

For more info on how safe is a safe deposit box, contact PVA or read the PVA blog for more interesting news, tips and ideas to guide you.

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