When Bank of America announced plans to charge regular banking customers a $5 monthly fee to use their debit card it created a wave of public criticism. But the lesser-known fees attached to prepaid debit cards are already extracting money from the most vulnerable Americans -- those unable to pay their bills and feed their families without public help -- in the midst of stubbornly high unemployment and soaring rates of poverty.
"The big banks have actually figured out a way to make unemployed workers a profit center, one that only grows as things get worse," said Angela Martin, executive director of Economic Fairness Oregon, a nonprofit advocacy group for low income and poor families.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank, said unemployment recipients are clearly informed about the fees that pertain to their debit cards. She added that the cards provide a convenient and economical service, because they allow holders to use them to buy goods at stores and withdraw cash back without incurring a fee.
So not only are the skimming unemployment and welfare benefits - the recipients don't get a choice. Convenience? For whom? The bank. The pic above was from a reader who proudly closed his BofA account on November 5th at OccupyLA's action...only to get his unemployment benefits (and fees) in the mail a couple of days later with a big BofA logo on it.
This is really, really wrong.