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Your bank locker is NOT 100% safe

Many people utilize the facilities of a safe deposit vault... commonly referred to as the bank locker... offered by banks to store their valuables such as jewellery, important original documents, precious stones, etc. 

However, in life nothing is risk-free. And bank lockers too suffer from certain risks  some man-made and some natural. Therefore, you would save lots on charges and other hassles, if you keep the following important points in mind.

One. Don't pay for the safe keeping of the air. In other words, choose a locker size — small, medium or large — that suits your requirement. Why pay for a large locker, if a small one suffices your needs?

Two. Annual rent charged by private / foreign banks is normally much higher as compared to the public sector banks. Therefore, unless the additional facilities, if any, make sense, you can save money by opting for a locker with a PSU bank.

Three. It is observed that banks coerce their customers to open a Fixed Deposit or buy an insurance plan, as one of the pre-conditions of opening a bank locker. This is not a mandatory rule and you can complaint against the bank if you are forced to do so. As per RBI, only the 'new' customers can be asked to keep a 'Security' deposit equivalent to three years of rentals + breaking charges only, and not a penny more.

Four. In addition, banks sometimes stipulate a much higher Minimum Account Balance for the saving account, if one desires to opt for a locker. As such, do check for such nasty surprises before you opt for one. 

Five. If you don't need to frequently access your bank locker, you can opt for the standard one which may be accessible only during the banking hours. Some select bank branches offer 24*7 access for those who need such flexibility and are willing to pay a much higher price vis-a-vis the regular lockers.

Important issues to consider before you put precious items in a Bank Locker.

Six. RBI has made it mandatory that you access your locker at least once in a year. Else it would be allotted to another customer even though you may have been up-to-date with your rental payments.

Seven. Make sure to laminate your important documents before you put them in a locker. You cannot totally discount the threat of moisture, termites, rodents etc. in the Indian 'environment'.

Eight. Last, but not the least, your bank locker too is open to the standard risks such as earthquake, fire, robbery, tsunami etc. As per any standard agreement, the bank's responsibility is to provide strong high-quality lockers and to undertake various security measures such as CCTV, alarm system, iron-gate, guards etc. to safeguard your locker contents. Therefore, 
- Banks are not responsible for losses due to any event not in their control e.g. earthquake, fire, tsunami etc.  
- Even the loss due to robbery may not be compensated, unless bank's negligence can be proved. This, of course, is a bit of grey area and some cases have gone in the favour of the banks and some the customers. This is so because banks do not check what you are putting into the locker. Since there is no proof of what was inside the locker, the loss incurred by you cannot be conclusively determined.

All said and done, a bank locker is still comparatively MUCH safer than keeping your valuables at home. So do go for it, but make sure you don't get conned by the banker.

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