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There’s an obvious reason banks ask for photo identification before giving customers access to financial records – identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. But New Jersey resident Syed Ali found himself at odds with the very security measures put in place to protect him when Wells Fargo blocked him from his own safety deposit box, he told Star-Ledger’s Karin Price-Mueller.
Ali had no licence and locked inside the box was the only other form of ID he owned – a passport he needed to visit his ailing mother in India.
“I have the key and I have a bank card from Wells Fargo, and so many times previously — maybe 25 times — I got inside and nobody asked me for more identification,” Ali told the Star-Ledger. “Now this time they didn’t allow me to go in. I go and explain that my mother is in a very serious condition, but they said no.”
He returned with an attorney to verify his identity the next day, but it was no use. A few weeks later, his mother passed away and the safety deposit box remained under lock and key.
No bank will allow consumers access to safety deposit boxes without a form of ID, though Wells Fargo eventually relaxed its rules for Ali, albeit too late.
When to lock it up
Bank safety deposit boxes are great for valuables and other papers you want kept confidential, but chances are it’s the last place you want to stash something you might need at a moment’s notice, like a passport.
First, you can only get to them during regular banking hours, and second, there are plenty of at-home safes you can invest in yourself. In fact, there’s a growing trend among consumers installing safes at home, with SmartMoney reporting a 40 per cent uptick in sales over the last few years.
Gone are the old metal clunkers people used to shove in the back of their closets, too. Manufacturers are rolling out more colour choices and sleeker designs. If it’s worth a few paychecks to you, you could turn your old pool-cue rack into a hidden treasure trove for a cool $16,000.
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