Wall Street's hellish ripoff of jobless Americans

Here's a diabolical idea from the hottest level of hell, down where Wall Street's fiendish schemers and scammers dwell.

Here’s a diabolical idea from the hottest level of hell, down where Wall Street’s fiendish schemers and scammers dwell.

Conspiring with state lawmakers, such powerhouse banks as JPMorgan Chase, US Bancorp, and Bank of America have devised a new way to enrich themselves by – get ready to gag – ripping off unemployed Americans. As Lily Tomlin has said, “No matter how cynical you get, it’s almost impossible to keep up.”

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Bankers have slithered into the process that states use to pay monthly jobless benefits to hard-hit people. These payments used to be mailed to recipients or deposited directly into their bank accounts, but Wall Street lobbyists – using phrases like “win-win” – have enticed states to switch the payment system to bank-issued debit cards. This saves states the cost of mailing or direct-depositing the money, but banks don’t do anything for free – someone must pay for distributing the benefits to individuals. Guess who?

Yes, the unemployed! Now, each month, the costs of distribution, plus a generous profit for the bank, are automatically deducted from the meager benefits the jobless receive. Then the bank hits them with ATM fees and other charges for using the card. How handy – in the sense that it puts bankers hands right into the pockets of unemployed people, forcing those in dire need to pay millions of dollars in unnecessary fees to some of the richest bankers in the land.

California, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, and Nevada don’t even allow recipients the choice of direct deposit, forcing them into the clutches of a particular bank, which violates federal law. But the whole system of profiteering on jobless people is an obscene violation of America’s fundamental sense of morality. For information and action, go to National Consumer Law Center: www.nclc.org.

“Letter from Ruth P. of Lubbock, Texas,” July 2012.

“2013 Survey of Unemployment Compensation Prepaid Cards,” www.nclc.org, January 2013.

“States force jobless to pay bank card fees,” Austin American Statesman, January 29, 2013.

“States Shortchange The Unemployed With Junk Debit Card Fees: Study,” www.huffingtonpost.com, July 11, 2011.

“Report: States force jobless to pay needless fees,” www.yahoo.com, January 29, 2013.

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