How Safe is Your Bank Locker?
If a customer falls into the high risk category and haven't operated your locker for a year, the bank can break open the locker after giving him/ her a notice while for the medium risk category customers the time limit is 3 years.
In this file photo, a staff member works inside the safety deposit locker room at a HDFC Bank branch in Mumbai. (Photo: Reuters/Vivek Prakash)
Bank Lockers are an age-old method of keeping your valuables safe but how can you be sure that the bank won't get robbed and your valuables won't be taken. Banks are a storehouse of money and valuables and hence they get robbed every now and then, be it nationalised banks or private banks, news of banks being looted cannot be avoided and ignored. Still, masses believe in keeping their Jewelry, Important documents and other valuables in Bank Lockers as banks have 24x7 security, camera surveillance and much more as compared to our homes.
The Reserve Bank of India states the relationship between the bank and the customer as that of a bailor and bailee wherein 'Bailor' is the person to whom we handover our stuff for safekeeping for a certain number of days and 'Bailee' is the owner of the goods or the person in whose possession the goods are.
Till the time the valuables are with the bank, it acts as a bailor and has the legal liability of exercising all due care and precautions in keeping your goods/valuables safe.
Different banks offer different rates/charges for their locker services depending upon the size of the locker. The charges range from somewhere around Rs 1,000 to Rs 12,000. It's important to know that you can't operate your locker unless you've cleared the rent for it.
While allotting a locker, banks are required to put you into a risk category i.e. low, medium or high. If you fall into the high risk category and haven't operated your locker for a year, the bank can break open the locker after giving you a notice. And if you fall into the medium risk category the bank can do the same if you haven't operated your locker in 3 years.
The locker will have two sets of keys, one remains with you and the second set remains with the bank, and to open the locker both sets are required.
Banks are the keepers of cash and valuables and hence to protect them, they carry out checks in routine and update their security systems on a regular basis. However, there are certain measures that you can follow as a customer to keep your valuables safe while operating your bank locker:
i) Read the terms and conditions of the bank properly before opting for the locker service.
ii) Once the bank employee who accompanies you to the vault leaves, only then open your locker.
iii) Before leaving, check that you've put back all the contents of the locker and the locker is properly locked.
iv) In case of theft you can claim compensation from the bank and for that keep all the receipts, invoices of your valuables, gold bars, etc safely and also keep the list of contents of the locker at a secured place.
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