Personal Finance

When you lose your bank locker key

K Venkatasubramanian | Updated on August 17, 2014



Be prepared to pay for breaking the existing lock and replacing it, besides a fine

Of all routes open to keep your valuables — gold, jewellery, important documents — safe, the locker facility offered by banks is an extremely popular avenue.

But while there is considerable security in stowing away your important stuff in the locker, the solitary key provided to you to open the locker must be kept safe.

Losing it can lead to considerable loss, especially if it lands in the wrong hands.

The problem is especially accentuated if you do not operate your locker for a long time or if your work takes you overseas for prolonged periods.

But what if, even with all your care, you lose that one locker key?

Here are the steps you need to take and the charges that you may incur while addressing the issue with the bank. A typical bank locker has two keys — one is given to you and the other is with the branch manager. Both the keys are needed to open the locker; neither of them alone will suffice.

Your responsibility

The responsibility of safekeeping the key rests solely with you as do the contents in the locker.

The bank will take no responsibility whatsoever for any loss that you may incur on this count. In fact, while signing up for the locker, the documents would clearly state this point.

So, if your bank were a bit lax in checking on customers operating lockers and if the key were to fall into the wrong hands, there is a chance that your locker could be cleaned out.

So, what do you do if you lose your key? First, inform your bank immediately. This way, the bank would be cautious and not allow anyone to operate your locker. You are expected to remember the key or the locker number at least while informing the bank!

You must also always have a written list of things that you hold in the locker, with updates made each time you carry out any operation.

Paying up

After you inform your bank, the next step would be to break open the lock and replace it with a new one. Banks such as Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank, SBI and City Union charge anywhere between ₹250-and ₹Rs 500 as fine or service charge.

This apart, you will have to bear the charges of breaking and replacing of the lock, complete with two new keys.

The bank normally calls the manufacturer of the locker; breaking the lock will be done in your presence.

The total charges for this activity can cost up to ₹3,000 in the case of most public and private sector banks.

Depending on the size of the locker you hire, the cost of replacing the lock could vary. In case you live overseas and lose your key, try to inform the bank through some local representative in India as soon as possible and arrange for the lock to be replaced, though the procedure for replacing the lock is more complicated.

Easy way out

Short-cuts such as making or using a duplicate key are best avoided in your own interest. If you think you’re being clever in getting a duplicate key made, note that it is a breach of contract. The rule that you should not make copies of the locker key is clearly stated in the agreement while renting out lockers for almost all banks.

The added danger would be that the person who delivers the duplicate keys may make another replica which could be misused.

So, to save yourself all the hassle, keep your locker key under, well, lock and key!

Published on August 17, 2014

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