Friday, March 23, 2012

Chase Bank rips off Alaska unemployment recipients

When you receive unemployment benefits in Alaska, there are three choices for how you want to receive the payments: electronically to a Chase debit card account; to your own account, or a check by mail.

In case you miss that page in the detailed Web application, the default is the Chase account. Chase sets up an account once you qualify for benefits and your payment is deposited into that account. You can use your debit card the regular way and you can also use their bill-pay function by setting up the accounts for each entity you pay for regular billings.

Somewhere in the fine print they sent it said some bill payments may be charged a fee. Some. On checking my first round of payments I discovered Chase had charged 75 cents for each transaction. Later the bank charged me 95 cents for a paper statement. This bank just a couple of years ago received a bailout from the federal government to the tune of $25 billion (with a B) and then turned around and used it for acquisitions of companies that were expected to prosper during a recession and even a depression, rather than try to ease the mortgage situation that started the process that ended up with banks needing bailouts.

That very same bank is charging Alaska's most unfortunate people, the unemployed, a fee, outrageous at any price, to use their unemployment benefits. I have been using bill-pay with two other banks for years and have never been charged a fee. Now, the state of Alaska, by using Chase, is enabling that theft. I suspect the state also pays Chase for the privilege of letting them manage the account, so the bank double dips to steal from Alaskans on unemployment. I intend to research that and find out what management of that account is costing the state. And what does Chase gain from charging Alaskans for bill-pay transactions? In January, 29,233 Alaskans were on unemployment. If two thirds of those used the Chase account and paid four bills a month, Chase would receive $54,446. Not much by megabanking standards but over a year it comes to $701,592, taken off the backs of Alaskans struggling to make ends meet.

This sort of thing goes a long way toward explaining what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about and why it is important. In support of that movement I have already moved all my accounts out of the megabank I was using, one that took a bailout and then held a retreat for its top executives that was scheduled in Palm Springs, Calif., at a cost of more than $1 million. What little I have is now in two local credit unions and in recent statistics I learned there has been about an 11 percent turnover in depositors following this route. That's a number that pretty soon should start getting some attention from someone.

Meanwhile the Chase connection with the state of Alaska is going to be examined.

I am not alone: Make this Google search: Chase Bank rips off Alaska unemployment. Seems people in other states are experiencing the same thing at the hands of JPMorgan Chase.

NOTE:  I see a lot of people reach this page with a search asking if there is a Chase Bank in Alaska. NO there isn't, however the state has made a connection with an independent ATM provider to handle Chase credit and debit cards, probably another handout to take a cut from our unemployment checks.

Update 1/31/13  Banks, states force jobless to pay needless fees

Follow-up with links to other posts and stories

Move your money

4 comments:

  1. I wonder how many other states have a similar arrangement with Chase or another big bank?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wonder what other states have a similar arrangement with Chase.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just started receiving my unemployment in Anchorage. I'm definitely direct depositing to my primary bank. Chase can shove it!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for this. I'm actually about to bring a small claims suit against Chase. This establishes clearly that Chase does business in Alaska.

    Thank You!

    ReplyDelete

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