Thursday, February 23, 2012

Big Banks Charging Unemployed Debit Card Fees For Unemployment Benefits

This story really belongs in the, You Have GOT To Be Fucking KIDDING Me, category. The very same banks whose financial shenanigans crashed the economy and created massive unemployment are now being allowed to charge debit card fees on the unemployment benefits of the unfortunate souls who lost their jobs thanks to their perfidy. Here is the Worcester Telegram & Gazette with the details:
Rhonda Taylor had never been on unemployment until she was laid off from her information technology job in 2008. When she received the debit card she’d use to access her unemployment benefits from the state, she assumed it worked like any other bank card.

But after a month using the card, the North Providence resident noticed she was being charged a fee every time she checked her balance at an ATM. Every time she used her PIN to make a purchase. Every time she tried to withdraw cash. A dollar here, $1.50 there. The fees added up. Twenty dollars a month matters, she said, when you’re unemployed and relying on the state.

The fees come from JPMorgan Chase, which the state selected in 2007 to operate Rhode Island’s debit card system. The state Senate voted last week to ask Gov. Lincoln Chafee to review the fees.

“Why is my state part of a system that charges the unemployed a fee for an out-of-state bank?” Taylor asked. “Why is money that’s supposed to go to the unemployed going to a Wall Street bank?”

Like most states, Rhode Island contracts with a bank to provide unemployment benefits through a debit card. JPMorgan Chase agreed to operate the system at no cost to the state — if it could charge fees to those receiving unemployment benefits.

In many cases, JPMorgan Chase charges fees that traditional bank cards don’t have. There’s a $1.50 fee if a user withdraws cash more than once per benefit deposit, plus a fee of up to $3 for using a non-network ATM to withdraw funds. A 50-cent fee every time the user checks the balance. A dollar fee for denied transactions and a 25-cent fee for debit purchases that require a PIN.

“Anything you do you pay a fee; it’s how Morgan is making their money on it,” said Sen. William Walaska, a Warwick Democrat who is pushing for more information on the fees. “These people can’t afford these fees — obviously — because they’re unemployed. But the state pretty much says, ‘We don’t want this to cost us any money, so banks, you figure out how to make money.’ ”

JPMorgan Chase won’t say how much it collects in fees or whether it would be open to reducing them. Spokeswoman Jessica Francisco said the company doesn’t publicly discuss its fee policies.

More than 40 states use bank cards to disburse unemployment benefits and almost all charge some fees. A report last year by the National Consumer Law Center compared systems and determined that Rhode Island “has one of the more problematic fee structures.”
So we bail the fuckers out with taxpayer money and then we turn around let them prey on the jobless. At the very least, these parasites should be providing the debit cards for free. Are there ANY public officials left in this fucking country who have not been completely bought and paid for by the big banks and Wall Street? Anywhere? Can someone please alert me to an example?

And yes, I am using the word "parasites" to describe them as a deliberate fuck you to any Randian conservative assholes who might be inclined to use the term instead against the unemployed. For contrary to their twisted worldview, it is the big banks that are the OPs (Original Parasites). President Andrew Jackson knew it, which is why he issued his famous veto of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States back in 1832. Too bad that in our post-Citizens United dystopia, in which psychopathic billionaires can donate as much money as they want to boils on humanity's ass like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and, yes, President Hopey-Changey, no one with Old Hickory's sensibilities stands any chance of getting elected to major public office ever again.

Bonus: "The planet Earth from way up there is beautiful and blue...and floating softly in a rainbow. But when you touch down things look different here"


  1. Nice piece. Yes, nothing seems to be sacred to these pukes. There are times when I wish I belived in hell.

  2. A chart of decline.

    The best part is the postscript:

  3. I could have told you this two years ago lol. Wells Fargo issues the unemployment cards in Nevada and, I assume elsewhere. JP Morgan administers the SNAP (food stamps) program now with over 45 million being 'serviced'.

  4. Adding insult to injury, unemployment also deducts federal income taxes from the weekly payment.

    Not bad enough that you're unemployed, but even then you're still beholden to the bankers and the government. Ain't it grand.