How Does a Bank Lock Box Work?

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Two keys in a bank lock box.
Two keys in a bank lock box. (Image: mipan/iStock/Getty Images)

Basics of a Bank Lock Box

A bank lock box, otherwise called a safe deposit box, is a great way for a person to keep small personal valuables such as jewelry or important documents such as insurance policies in a safe place. Lock boxes are rented by banks to customers but are sometimes offered as a free service for VIP clients. The cost depends on the bank and the size of the lock box and is paid annually. The person who rents the lock box receives a key that is one of two keys to open the box. Boxes are kept in the bank vault for the utmost security.

Checking the Box

Because the box is held behind the walls of the bank vault, clients are not able to simply walk in and open the box. They must first visit a bank teller or customer service representative who will pull the lock box card out of the file. The client will need to provide identification proving who she is and that she is authorized to open the box. Additionally, the client will need to sign in with her signature being compared to the two signatures on the lock box card by the bank representative. Once the person is confirmed as authorized, she is able to enter the vault with the bank representative who will place a bank master key in the lock box with the customer key being inserted as well to unlock the box. The bank representative will remove the box and place it in a viewing area, which is usually a room that gives a person privacy to review the contents of the box. When done, the representative replaces the box with the client watching.

Items for a Lock Box

Lock boxes are meant to be a safe place to keep items so they are not stolen or damaged if a person's home is burglarized or subject to a catastrophic event such as a fire. Common items allowed in a lock box are insurance policies, real estate deeds, estate plans and wills. Most people keep a copy at their home with the originals in safekeeping. Other acceptable items would be jewelry, watches and other small valuable objects. Contraband items for a lock box are firearms, cash and drugs. While it is difficult to prove if contraband is maintained in the box, if someone falls into question, a court order can be obtained to open the box by police or other officials.

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