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FDIC Consumer News - Summer 2018
25th Anniversary Edition

[2018] Safe Deposit Boxes, Home Safes and Your Valuables

Excerpted from “Five Things to Know About Safe Deposit Boxes, Home Safes and Your Valuables,” Winter 2018.

Over time, your valuables change, and so do your options to protect them. Here are a few choices.

Think about what should or should not be kept in a bank's safe deposit box. Good candidates include originals of key documents, such as birth certificates, property deeds, car titles and U.S. Savings Bonds that haven't been converted into electronic securities.

You're better off stashing your cash in a bank deposit account, like a savings account or certificate of deposit, than in a home safe or a safe deposit box. Cash that's not in a deposit account isn't protected by FDIC insurance. And unlike money in a savings account, money in a home safe or safe deposit box cannot earn interest.

A home safe isn't a true replacement for a bank's safe deposit box. A burglar could more easily break into your home and open the safe than get inside your safe deposit box at your bank.

No safe deposit box or home safe is completely protected from theft, fire, flood or other loss or damage. Consider taking precautions, such as protecting against water damage by placing items in water-safe plastic storage bags or other plastic containers that can be resealed.

Be mindful of whom you allow to access your safe deposit box. You can jointly rent a safe deposit box with one or more people whom you would like to give unrestricted access. Keep in mind, though, that your bank would likely not be responsible for anything that people you authorize to enter the box remove without your permission. And, who has access to your safe deposit box if you die? That depends on state law.