Open Secrets about Bank Lockers
Are you thinking of hiring a new locker from your banker or do you have availed this facility in the past? Here are some of the points to be kept in mind while availing the locker facility.
What is a Bank Locker?
Banks offer locker facility (If available) to their existing customers or even new customers for keeping their valuables in a Locker Cabinet (See Image) having a number of lockers of various sizes.
- Every locker has two keyholes, one for the lessee’s key and another Master Key used by the Bank for the whole cabinet. The utility of the master key is just enabling the lessee key to be operative. It implies that the locker can be opened if both the Banker (lesser) and the Customer (lessee) are present. The Banker after enabling the lessee’s key moves outside the strong room and the lessee under covered privacy can operate, remove or keep the valuables. Once the lessee locks the locker and wants to reopen it he/she will have to call the bank officer for enabling act.
- Bank’s are under obligation to provide cleanliness in the strong room with a facility of dressing room and stool.
Bank Rules Lessees must know:
- The bank is lesser and you are the lessee. A banker will take care of the lockers as it takes care of its own vault and safe.
- The bank is not liable for any losses due to natural calamities like earthquake, floods, fire or for other reasons like arson – which are beyond the control of the Bank.
- Bank does ask for the details of articles kept in the Locker and hence does not know the valuation of the articles. Articles kept in the locker are at the risk and responsibility of the lessee and the lessee is free to get the contents of the locker insured at his/her own cost.
- Access to the locker is limited to the working hours displayed by the Bank.
- If the locker rent is in arrears, the bank can, after proper notices by post and publishing in local newspapers, break open the locker and sell the valuables to recover their rent.
- During your lifetime you can make nominations, revoke or change the nominations and get a confirmation from the Bank.
- If there is no nomination then after the death of lessee, the legal heirs can visit the Bank along with the key to make out an inventory of the articles kept in the locker. The articles will be kept back in the locker to be delivered after the settlement of death claim in favor of the legal heirs or claimants. Legal heirs can also take a photocopy of the will, if any, found in the locker of the deceased lessee.
- Lessee must operate his/her locker once a year otherwise as per latest guidelines the bank can break open the locker after the proper notice at the last known address of the lessee.
- Lessee need not keep perishable items in the locker such as currency notes, which, if eaten away by the termites are not even covered by the insurers. Check up for riders by your insurers.
- As far as locker must be taken in joint names along with nomination facility.
- A copy of the Lease Deed executed in favor of the bank must be taken duly attested by the bank for reference and record.
- Lockers cannot be leased out to minors, blind and insane persons but can be availed by illiterates.
Lessee – General Awareness:
If the locker being offered to the lessee is a fresh locker or a surrendered locker. If it is fresh locker then the key of the locker to be allotted will be embedded in a sealed cover and the lessee can ask the bank to break open the seal in his/her presence.
If the locker is a surrendered locker then the bank is duty bound to change the locks as used locker is not always safe and why it will not be safe is discussed below.
Almost all the locker cabinets, nowadays, have third keyhole and provision for another lock to be put up by the lessee. Previously the cabinets had provisions to cover the two keyholes by a lid on which manual optional lock could be put by Lessee. But due to practical problems (some customers inadvertently or in a haste put up the manual lock on someone other’s locker creating difficulties for the banks), the use of manual locks has been stopped and customers can put up their own lock with levers put inside the locker, which will rule out the following remote possibilities.
While operating locker you can ask for complete privacy that is nobody inside the vault room. No CCTV can be placed to keep watch over locker operations. However, CCTV footage can be taken for entry into the vault room of the bank where a locker cabinet is kept and night alarm can be installed.
How used locker can be risky – rarest of the rare possibilities: (Assumptions)
An existing lessee surrenders the locker key while surrendering the facility. He/She is having another locker say jointly in the same cabinet or vault room. He/She prepares a duplicate key for the locker surrendered and also checks that it operates while operating his/her locker in the past visits. The original key is surrendered and the duplicate key is available with him/her. He/she visit the locker room to operate their another locker in which he/she is joint hirer and during operation, he/she win over the custodian of the lockers who leaves the master key in the keyhole of the locker being operated. The lessee using the master key and duplicate key of the locker, already surrendered, operate that very locker, remove contents and lock the locker again and move after operating their 2nd locker after handing over the master key to the custodian. The theft will come into notice only when the new lessee, to whom the surrendered locker was issued, visits the bank. Had the bank changed the levers of the locker with a different key, the above possibility could have been ruled out. That is why you need to check if it is a brand new locker or surrendered locker with changed locks as per guidelines to the Banks.
Even if locks are changed and the new key number is allotted to the surrendered locker the possibility of making a duplicate key of the surrendered lockers by the bank custodians cannot be ruled out. As bank custodians though changed periodically have unauthorized free access to the locker cabinet room.
The bank can deliver the contents of the locker of the deceased to the nominee. But allowing the delivery to the nominee if someone brings the order of the court of competent law then the delivery of the contents of the locker will be as per directions of the court and the nominee cannot ask the bank to deliver the content to him/her as per the mandate of the deceased lessee.
Alert for Bank Custodians:
Some times bank custodian at the request of well know customers bye pass the rules of getting signatures for their entry (CCTV footage will prove that the entry was unauthorized) into the vault room and in case the customer forgets to lock the locker, it will create legal problems for the custodians. Moreover, after the end of business hours, the bank custodians must check that all the lockers operated that day have been properly locked as if action is taken on the same day the custodians are protected by law. Some customers come pre-planned to win over the custodians to operate their locker without signing in the entry log register or computerized record and leave the empty locker unlocked intentionally to make the bank liable for unknown liability to be claimed when they find their locker open at the next visit just to sue the bank. Bank custodians, beware of such traps!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Ashok Goyal
temptor94 on June 22, 2014:
This is a very useful post for all people who own a bank locker. The loophole that you pointed out with respect to surrendered locker key is valuable information, something that everyone should know. Thanks for this great post!
Jai Bhagwan Gupta from Rajpura on March 30, 2014:
Lockers are considered to be secure place but it is more important to know as to how to secure the already secured lockers. I think the electronic locks will be the future answers with locker cabinets having censors to recognize their owners. Speech, Touch and Remote sensing technologies may make the lockers more secure which will also beep if the owners leave the bank strong room without properly locking the locker as it is common mistake by locker owners to leave the locks of lockers in opened state in a hurry and bank officials have least time to check each and every locker after operation.
Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on March 26, 2014:
This is a very interesting article. It seems like it would be a great place to keep valuables, but it is also nice to be aware of the risks associated.
Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great day.
John Paolo Magdaluyo from Philippine on April 14, 2013:
I think not only on banks it is to be attach. It must be installed at all business for owners as well as other particular individuals that can be affected if a theft can broke in.
Ashok Goyal (author) from 448 Dalima Vihar Rajpura 140401 Punjab India on January 14, 2013:
As per latest guideline all locker keys are engraved with the name of the Bank and Branch Code. If it is an old key then it may not be engraved. Reserve Bank of India had instructed the Banks to engrave all the existing keys available with the Bank's customers. No deadline is given by the RBI and the engraving is being carried out by Banks in India at very slow pace.
Neha Goyal from Rajpura 140401 Punjab India on January 14, 2013:
I found a Godrej Key in my home. It appears to be a Locker Key. How to locate the locker?