Letter Re: Experience With Wells Fargo Safe Deposit Box

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Hugh,

I noted the post in Economics and Investing on 30 April.

I would like to share my experience with Wells Fargo which occurred about 20 years ago. I went in to the branch to access my safe deposit box. After telling me that I had no box, we sorted out that they had made a mistake about deducting my annual fees and closed my account. The next thing they said was that there was no such box. I convinced them that there was such a box, and we went into the vault and the previous location of my box was now an aisle-way. It turns out that they remodeled the vault, and they could not find my box. After nine months of run-around, the branch manager said that I should fill out a claim form with a statement of the contents. I told her that I did not want to file a claim but rather wanted the contents of my box. About one week later they finally found the box. I promptly closed my safe deposit box account. I did some research and learned that this type of thing happens surprisingly frequently, and there are many lawyers out there that will assist you in bringing a law suit against a bank who has lost your safe deposit box. Bottom line: If you place something in a bank safe deposit box then you may never see it again. Safe deposit boxes are a reasonable solution in some situations but not without risk.

If anyone chooses to use a safe deposit box, make copies of all documents and diversify storage locations for things which are irreplaceable, placing only some in the safe deposit box and another portion in other secure locations. As always, remember that the safe deposit box contents may be inaccessible temporarily or permanently, due to many reasons, among which could be a power failure, a bank failure, or even a new executive order confiscating gold a second time. – Anonymous SurvivalBlog Reader

Hugh Replies: As has been stated many times, unless you hold the asset in your hand, you do not truly own it. Any time you are paying someone to handle the asset for you, you run the risk of losing control of that asset. Obviously, OPSEC is something that needs to be managed as well. Fortunately, I learned that lesson from the U.S. Postal Service without losing anything of monetary value. I sent a letter, by registered mail, to a person who never received it, nearly causing some serious legal ramifications. When I contacted the Postmaster, they smiled politely and apologized for losing the letter, but there was nothing anyone could do. The letter simply vanished. In every case, you must weigh the convenience of having someone else manage your asset against the security needed to manage it yourself. Sometimes you cannot avoid it, but you must be prepared to lose control of it.

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