Bank of America is back in the spotlight as consumers are criticizing it for charging unemployed workers a fee to use their prepaid benefits card out-of-network.
South Carolina contracts with Bank of America to administer its unemployment benefits. Unemployed people in the state’s smaller, more rural communities that do not have Bank of America branches, however, often find themselves paying out-of-network fees when obtaining their money, according to HuffingtonPost.com.
Shawana Busby, who has been unemployed for most of the past three years, depends on $264 each week from the state, which is disbursed on her Bank of America prepaid card.
Busby estimates that she has paid about $350 in out-of-network fees because there is no Bank of America branch within 50 miles of her home, HuffingtonPost.com reports.
States like South Carolina are trying to reduce their costs on printing and mailing unemployment checks by partnering with larger banks to use prepaid cards.
"In short, the same banks whose speculation delivered a financial crisis that has destroyed millions of jobs have figured out how to turn widespread unemployment into a profit center: The larger the number of people who are out of work and dependent upon the state for sustenance, the greater the potential gains through administering their benefits," Janell Ross, the HuffingtonPost.com reporter who has been investigating this issue, said.