California Robbing Citizens?
Kurtis Ming – ORANGEVALE CA (CBS13) – A woman says her bank let her safe deposit box vanish. And she’s not the only one.
Susan Nomi says when she went to open her Bank of America safe deposit box of 16 years, the entire box was gone.
That’s where she kept her family’s jewelry and her dad’s coin collection.
“I was in shock; I was just like what happened to my box,” said Nomi.
She says Bank of America can’t explain where her valuables went.
“They don’t have an answer. They don’t have an answer. They say thanks for letting us know,” she says.
Nomi was infuriated, especially considering she is a retired Bank of America employee of 40 years. And she’s not alone. Others have complained that Bank of America drilled their safe deposit boxes without permission or notice.
Wendy Woo says her belongings were taken out of her safe deposit box and shipped to her.
“Everything was dumped in a plastic bag,” said Woo.
She says a ring was missing a stone and a necklace was damaged in the process.
“Safe deposit box….that’s what it’s for, safe,” she said.
Another family reported getting their safe deposit contents shipped back too, but claim $17,000 in jewelry was missing.
Then another woman who just wants to be identified as Maggie says, “I just got robbed from the bank.” “They just took my stuff,” she exclaimed.
Federal rules say banks can drill a box without permission only when there is a court order, search warrant, delinquent rental fees, requests from estate administrators, or if the bank is closing a branch.
However, none of those reasons applies to any of these cases. Safe deposit box consultant Dave Guinn trains bank employees on proper safe deposit box procedures. He says federal law requires that banks give customers adequate notice.
“A notification should be made either by registered letter or by certified receipt letter,” said Guinn.
Bank of America has said it does “…notify customers by mail in accordance with law well in advance prior to drilling a box.”
Nomi’s not buying it and says, “I worked for them. It’s not like they couldn’t get a hold of me or anything.”
Bank of America still can’t explain what happened to her valuables but said, “We certainly understand how frustrating this matter is for Mrs. Nomi and we are working with her on a resolution. We are looking at this situation to help us identify opportunities to help avoid similar events in the future as we continue to work on improving service to our customers.”
She says, “I can’t ever replace it. It’s irreplaceable, doesn’t matter how much its worth.”
After we got involved, she told us the bank agreed to cut her a check.
The Bank of America also paid to fix Mrs. Woo’s damaged jewelry but left each of them wondering how safe a safe deposit box is.
Nomi has advice for others: “Check what’s in your box,” and “If you haven’t been in it for a while, make sure it’s there.”
The Bank of America rental agreement says they could terminate your rental agreement for your safe deposit box if you don’t give proper identification when requested. The customers in these incidents say that does not apply to their cases.
Banks have strict regulations they must follow, one being they have to have two keys to get into a box, yours and theirs. Plus, if a box has been drilled open, the bank must have a record of it being drilled.
If this has happened to you or someone you know, click here to file a complaint.