SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Debit card benefit payments intrude on rights of unemployed


February 24, 2009

Juneau, Alaska - Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) sent a letter to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development today, outlining privacy and fairness concerns over plans to replace unemployment checks with debit cards.

"Debits card purchases can be traced. That's putting government in our homes, and is a serious intrusion of privacy. What people do with their money is private, and people should be able to opt to get a check," Tuck said.

Tuck's letter comes in response to news about the state's contract with JP Morgan Chase to issue debit cards to distribute unemployment benefits, and plans to phase out of paper checks. These debit cards carry with them usage fees, overdraft fees, penalty fees, and the potential for purchases to be traced and affect credit ratings of the unemployed.

"Debit cards carry usage fees of up to $20," Tuck said. "The last thing unemployed workers need is to get nickeled-and-dimed with unfair fees. Those fees are peanuts to a bank, like JP Morgan, which just got billions in federal dollars to stay afloat. But, these fees could be a serious burden on a family struggling to put food on the table during hard times."

In his letter, Tuck called on the Department to protect the rights of all unemployed Alaskans by allowing them to continue to choose to receive a paper check for their benefits.

Unemployment benefits are funded through employee payroll deductions and employer contributions.


Source of News:

Representative Chris Tuck

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Ketchikan, Alaska