Is your gold safe in a bank safety deposit box? Not always.
Traditionally, a bank safety deposit box has offered the pinnacle of security. If you wanted to be sure that documents, jewelry and yes, gold coins and bars, were secure, you would go to your bank and rent a deposit box.
But times have changed, particularly in the U.S.
According to a recent ABC News investigation. "California law used to say property was unclaimed if the rightful owner had had no contact with the business for 15 years. But during various state budget crises, the waiting period was reduced to seven years, and then five, and then three. Legislators even tried for one year. Why? Because the state wanted to use that free money."
And California isn’t the only state that is helping itself to the contents of safety deposit boxes. It is happening across the board. While it used to be that banks would only open “delinquent” boxes, where people had died and nobody had claimed the contents, that is no longer the case.
There are stories of people who pay their box rental, do business at the bank on a regular basis, and still find that the bank has helped itself to the contents of their safety deposit boxes.
And that’s not all. In the U.S., Canada and the UK, the fight against terrorism and organized crime has resulted in thousands of boxes being drilled and emptied.
All that said, if you get clear assurances from your bank about the circumstances under which your box would be opening, and if you are a law-abiding citizen, you'll probably be OK. The stories reported above came to the attention of the media precisely because they were unusual and troubling.
My guess is that the vast majority of safety deposit box owners have never had these problems.