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Families say most valued possessions are missing after TD opened and emptied their safety boxes | Unfold Times

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If there’s one factor Sheila Levy-Bencheton took with no consideration, it is that the security deposit field her father rented from a giant financial institution was safe.

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That is till her dad handed away in 2017 at age 103.

The Toronto girl went to TD Canada Belief to empty the field a couple of months later, and found the financial institution had already accomplished it years in the past — forcing it open by drilling the lock then emptying the contents.

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The financial institution drilled open and emptied hundreds of security deposit containers throughout the nation in 2012 in an effort to eliminate these now not being used or paid for. It says its insurance policies require the contents to be put aside for secure preserving.

However Levy-Bencheton says she’s nonetheless lacking her household’s most valued possessions and combating for compensation. 

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And he or she’s not the one one. Go Public additionally spoke to an Edmonton man who misplaced hundreds of {dollars}’ price of irreplaceable 22-karat gold jewellery, who says the financial institution did the identical factor to him.

“As soon as it’s gone, it is gone,” stated Suraj Khatiwada.

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Each he and Levy-Bencheton say they cannot imagine the financial institution would open the containers and take away their possessions.

“The explanation you will have a security deposit field is to particularly put issues in a really secure place and to not be tampered with. This was clearly tampered with,” Levy-Bencheton stated.

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Lacking, she says, is her mom’s diamond ring, an 18karat gold watch purchased in 1947, gold and silver cash and hundreds of {dollars} in money. These are the objects her father — nonetheless lucid in his older age — informed her he’d stashed on the financial institution for secure preserving.

She’s unsure precisely how a lot money, however says her father stored it there as a result of her dad and mom have been Holocaust survivors, so have been all the time anxious about having easy accessibility to cash and valuables in case they wanted to run.

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“That is the sort of mentality they lived with,” she stated.

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When Levy-Bencheton’s father Harry Katz, left, died at 103, his household says he was nonetheless lucid and shared every little thing about his funds with them. His spouse Cera Katz, proper, is seen right here carrying the gold watch the household says was lacking from the security deposit field. (Susan Goodspeed/CBC)

However as an alternative of getting the money and jewellery, the financial institution handed Levy-Bencheton a pile of paperwork and receipts, a couple of silver greenback cash and an empty ring field, saying that is all that was in there.

Consultants say banks function security deposit containers as a aspect enterprise, with few guidelines besides these they set for themselves.

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“It is referred to as the security deposit field, however actually it is only a contract that has all types of provisions in it to guard the banks from legal responsibility,” stated Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, an advocacy group for company accountability and regulation reform.

Levy-Bencheton says TD’s guidelines imply it did not have to show something.

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She requested for the financial institution’s data displaying who had accessed the field earlier than it was drilled open, and for a duplicate of the registered letter the financial institution stated it despatched her father earlier than opening it. The financial institution did not have both, she says.

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Levy-Bencheton holds up the few silver cash from her father’s security deposit field: the one issues of worth that have been inside, in accordance with TD Canada Belief. (Susan Goodspeed/CBC)

“It made me suspicious,” Levy-Bencheton stated. “God is aware of what occurred there.”

TD tells Go Public the household’s field was opened accidentally, as a part of a “community extensive reconciliation course of” — one of many 16,000 containers it drilled open in 2012 for causes together with overdue hire, misplaced keys or the place “required by regulation.” 

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The financial institution says it has a million containers throughout the nation and the necessity to drill them open is uncommon.

$250 ‘goodwill gesture’

Levy-Bencheton fought for greater than a 12 months to get any compensation.

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At first, a financial institution supervisor informed her the field by no means existed, however she says that “did not really feel proper” because the household had two units of keys and her dad had informed her all about it. 

So, on a whim, a member of the family referred to as TD customer support a few week later and requested once more.

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“And inside 5 minutes, he acquired again within the line. He stated, ‘Yeah, it was right here [but] it was drilled in 2012,'” stated Levy-Bencheton. “I could not imagine it.”

When the household requested why it had been given two totally different tales, the financial institution stated the supervisor “was newer to the position and never as resourceful” as the worker on the telephone.

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The financial institution stated there could be no compensation because the household could not show what was within the field and the financial institution did not have any data.

As an alternative it supplied $250 as a “goodwill gesture.”

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Levy-Bencheton turned the provide down after which moved her criticism as much as TD’s ombudsman.

That went nowhere. Three criticism ranges later, in October 2018, the non-public nationwide mediation firm that handles TD complaints — ADR Chambers — stated there was a 50-50 probability valuables and money have been lacking.

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At first, TD informed Levy-Bencheton her father’s security deposit field did not exist. (Susan Goodspeed/CBC)

After doing a unfastened accounting, the corporate discovered the jewellery was price about $8,400, and really useful TD to pay Levy-Bencheton and her household half that quantity. 

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ADR has been criticized for being biased towards the banks it investigates as a result of they pay charges for its service.

Levy-Bencheton turned down the provide, saying it does not start to cowl the household’s losses. She additionally needs the financial institution to need to pay a hefty penalty.

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“We actually do not know the way a lot was in there [but] it was greater than that for positive,” she stated.

“It actually triggered us plenty of aggravation. We have misplaced plenty of sentimental issues and the one language the financial institution is aware of is cash … so now we have to hit them the place it hurts.”

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The household has employed paralegal George Berger to assist get solutions from TD — and possibly file a lawsuit.

“They refused to supply details about what precisely occurred,” Berger stated.

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George Berger is a paralegal attempting to determine if different TD purchasers are lacking helpful objects after hundreds of security deposit containers have been drilled open in 2012. (Susan Goodspeed/CBC)

‘As soon as it’s gone, it is gone’

Suraj Khatiwada of Edmonton remains to be lacking his spouse’s 22-karat gold wedding ceremony bangles, necklace and wedding ceremony ring after TD Canada Belief additionally “inadvertently” opened his security deposit field with out his permission.

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He says it occurred someday between 2015, the final he opened the field himself, and 2017, when he found the financial institution had drilled the lock. 

After months of backwards and forwards and an investigation by the financial institution’s ombudsman, TD apologized and awarded him $12,000 for the lacking jewlery. He says he did not have any proof, however did present pictures of the jewellery to the financial institution.

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On the time the financial institution promised to research, however has but to elucidate how the objects went lacking. 

“That could be a very unlucky factor … we can’t change the sentimental worth of these issues,” stated Khatiwada, who immigrated from Nepal in 2010. 

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Suraj Khatiwada, seen right here along with his spouse on their wedding ceremony day in 2009, says the 22-karat jewellery she wore is irreplaceable. (Submitted by Suraj Khatiwada)

“In Western tradition, the marriage ring could be very helpful. However in our tradition, it is the necklace and in addition the ring. We’ve a particular ring ceremony, so they aren’t replaceable.”

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TD spokesperson Carla Hindman says the financial institution has protocols for forcing open security deposit containers together with, “guaranteeing at the least two workers, certainly one of whom have to be a supervisor, are all the time current as they [staff] take away, catalogue, bundle and securely retailer the contents.” However she did not say if these guidelines have been adopted within the two instances Go Public checked out.

Banks have been reprimanded for not taking sufficient care with security deposit containers.

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In 2002, a B.C. courtroom awarded a lady greater than $20,000 in damages after TD drilled hers open, having wrongly concluded her rental was in arrears.

And in 2001 and 2006, Canada’s privateness commissioner broadly criticized banks for inaccurate record-keeping and for breaking privateness guidelines associated to containers being opened.

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The commissioner did not identify which financial institution or banks have been concerned in these complaints. 

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Security deposit field No. 145, belonging to Khatiwada, was additionally drilled and emptied by TD in 2012. The lacking gold jewellery was by no means discovered. (Submitted by Suraj Khatiwada)

Conacher, at Democracy Watch, says financial institution prospects are compelled to battle these lengthy battles as a result of guidelines for the way banks handle security deposit containers will not be a part of Canada’s Financial institution Act and are largely unregulated.

He says the dearth of presidency guidelines makes it onerous for Canadians to get truthful compensation when banks mishandle containers.

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Provincial property legal guidelines do point out security deposit containers however are restricted to how beneficiaries achieve entry after somebody dies.

“If [something] goes lacking, then not solely do you will have a contract that protects the financial institution, however you even have the burden of proof to show that the financial institution has not dealt with that field correctly.

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“That is a very massive hurdle for any client to try to climb over to get accountability,” Conacher stated. He is calling on the federal authorities to replace the Financial institution Act to incorporate security deposit containers.

Go Public requested the Division of Finance if Ottawa plans to make adjustments. In a press release, it could solely say it frequently opinions legal guidelines, “to make sure that Canadians have the protections they want.”

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Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher says there is a lack of presidency guidelines banks need to observe of their administration of security deposit containers. (CBC)

Not like common financial institution deposits, Conacher says, the contents of security deposit containers aren’t insured by monetary establishments, so homeowners have to insure valuables themselves as a part of dwelling insurance coverage insurance policies and to frequently doc what’s inside with pictures and witnesses.

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Each Levy-Bencheton and Khatiwada say, after their experiences, they’re accomplished with security deposit containers.

Khatiwada says he nonetheless has an account with TD which incorporates the usage of a deposit field, however he informed Go Public it is sitting empty.

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“I misplaced my belief,” he stated.


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