Relief for Unemployment Debit Card Users Coming Soon?


We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

We hope more relief will come to people who are relying on unemployment benefits, especially those using unemployment debit cards. The U.S. Department of Labor has spoken…at least on unemployment insurance debit cards. The DOL guidelines lay out the following recommendations to states:

•Offer the option of directly deposit to existing bank accounts
•Make fee information easily available
•Allow for as many free ATM withdrawals per payment
•Make purchases free
•Make balance inquiries at ATMs free
•Get rid of overdraft charges, and reduce/eliminate denial fees
•Provide free customer service by phone

We’d like to add that dormancy or inactivity fees should be eliminated, as well monthly written statements should be provided for no fee or a low fee so that people can keep track of transactions.

In order for the many laid off Americans to benefit from the DOL’s guidelines, states need to renegotiate their contracts with the banks running these programs, banks like JP Morgan Chase, U.S. Bank and Bank of America. These negotiations need to happen quickly, as many Americans using these unemployment debit cards are often facing fees for trying to use the money, for things like going to the ATM too many times in one day, or for checking the balance too many times.

In some states, like Nebraska and Minnesota provide the ReliaCard run by U.S. Bank that has a $20 Overdraft Fee! Or if you have a bank account you’d like the funds transferred to, you’ll need to pay $2.50 to move the money over for Missouri Access recipients.

If you have an unemployment debit card how, we have some tips.

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