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.
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Representative Chris Tuck
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