Clark on the Case: The drilled safety deposit box


Clark on the Case:
The drilled safety deposit box at a giant monster mega-bank


Clark on the Case: photo of John John of Washington state had a safety deposit box for over 40 years at a small bank that was eventually gobbled up by a giant monster mega-bank. His daughter called Clark for help when all of the possessions in John’s box were taken and sent to North Carolina. John was able to get his items back by paying a $150 fee to the bank. He knows of many others who had the same thing happen at his branch, and he is unable to get his money back as of this writing.

THE FACTS: As relayed by John’s daughter

  • On October 30, 2012, John received a letter  asking for additional info on the safety deposit box account. According to a phone interview with The Clark Howard Show, the info in question included Social Security number, addresses, phone numbers, etc. The black and white letter John received had no signature, and his family advised him to shred it fearing someone was phishing for his information.
  • On May 7, 2013, John paid the rental rate of $47 on his safety deposit box in full.
  • On June 5, 2013, the giant monster mega-bank drilled John’s box because they did not receive info they asked for. When John asked for further explanation, he was allegedly told by the bank they drilled because he had not responded to their written requests for additional account info.
  • The bank’s original letter said they had the right to ask for such info under the Patriot Act.  
  • The contents of John’s safety deposit box — bonds, personal papers including the adoption papers of his late wife, and more — were shipped from Washington to a holding station in North Carolina.  
  • Upon learning about the drilling,  John paid a $150 drilling fee to have the contents of his safety deposit box shipped back to his local giant monster mega-bank branch.
  • John has tried requesting a refund from the bank for the drilling fee but has been denied.  Clark was also told that a neighbor of John’s had been in the same situation, and was refunded her money but she was told it was only possible because she had a bank checking account.  John does not have an account with the bank.
  • John was allegedly given the hard sell about the $150 refund. He was told he could expedite the refund by opening a new bank account and depositing some HH savings bonds that had been in the safety deposit box.


Clark has decided to unleash one of our team pit bulls on the monster mega-bank to verify the facts of the call, and see if he needs to warn all of his listeners that this can happen to them.

Hear the segment as broadcast on The Clark Howard Show:


On October 2, 2013, Clark announced that Team Clark questioned the bank and received a response.  Their statement read, in part, ‘We regret the inconvenience to our customer. The drilling fees were refunded.’ The bank did not issue an apology.

Furthermore, what did not get resolved is a more pressing question: Is there a better way for the bank to handle a situation like this going forward? Sure, the bank took care of the customer. But will they rethink how they treat people’s possessions in the future?

Utlimately, all’s well that end’s well. But it never should have  gotten to this. The real goal of The Clark Howard Show is to give guidance to empower you to fight your own battles. In the case of John’s family, they did everything they could have, all to no avail…and that’s why Team Clark stepped in.