Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chase unemployment debit card ripoff is widespread

It turns out more than 40 states outsource their unemployment accounts to banks. JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America seem to be the largest providers;

Besides Alaska, Chase customers include at least Rhode Island, Tennessee, Illinois, New York, MIchigan, Louisiana, West Virginia and Texas.

According to RIFuture,org, Rhode Island outsourced these payments with no charges to the state if the bank was allowed to charge fees for their use. In addition to the fee for bill payments I discovered, at least in Rhode Island the bank was charging a 50-cent fee to check a balance, $1.50 to withdraw funds more than once a week and $3 for using a bank out of the system.

The State Senate in Rhode Island in February voted to have the governor review the fees Chase is charging.

According to Felix Salmon, who blogs for Reuters, states actually sell contracts to manage the accounts to the banks in exchange for letting them charge fees. He also reports that California, for instance, has hearned $7.7 million from Bank of America for handling such accounts since December 2010.

The Huffington Post first ran an article in November 2011 about these fees and how they are cutting into unemployment benefits. This was the most comprehensive article on the practice I could find.

What happens is the states are selling out their own citizens in order to make a few bucks and move some of the work out of their bureaucracies. And, Alaska is not alone in the practice. As stated in the beginning, at least 40 states are doing it. If you start multiplying the fees by the number of unemployed in 40 states, the banks are pulling in huge numbers, all of that money taken directly from those who can least afford it.

Here's another link published 1/31/13  Banks force jobless to pay needless fees

Original story

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Interesting quotations

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