16 Senators Seek Inquiry of A.T.M.-Style Pay Cards

July 12, 2013
New York Times 
credit card news

Sixteen Democratic senators sent a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Richard Cordray and Seth Harris, acting secretary of the Labor Department, asking them to "take swift action to protect American workers" by examining the use of ATM-style cards to pay hourly workers. Consumer lawyers and employees say the problem with using these cards in place of paper paychecks is that in the vast majority of cases, using the cards can generate large fees -- $0.50 for a balance inquiry and $2.25 for using an out-of-network ATM, for example. Some employees say they are reluctant to request another option out of fear of losing their jobs, while others say they are automatically enrolled in the payroll-card programs and find it difficult or confusing to opt out. In their correspondence, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), and the other signatories pressed the regulators to investigate whether workers understood the card fees. They also asked that the CFPB make a systematic study of the fees. "Americans work hard every day and their pay must be protected from high fees, unfair choice and improper commissions," declared Manchin. "It is clear that prepaid payroll cards must be investigated further."
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