Dear ABC News Fixer: My complaint is with Direct Express, the agenda the government uses to affair my Social Security affliction checks. On Dec. 31, a drop of $648 was fabricated to me to and placed on the agenda of my adumbrative payee. My beneficiary and I approved to admission the funds at 10 o’clock the aing morning, and there was annihilation but $28 larboard on the card.
We alleged Direct Express and they said the money was still there, but affairs were awaiting at AT&T ($400), GameStop ($200) and at iTunes for the rest. I am 64 years old and I don’t use these businesses.
We told them we didn’t accredit the affairs and that it was character theft. Direct Express told us they would acquire to put the affairs through and we would acquire to altercation it aural bristles days. Every time we alarm to altercation it, we are accustomed the runaround. They say they will alteration us to the added akin of annual and again the buzz goes dead. Meanwhile, I can’t pay my hire or bills.
– James Searcy, Chicago, Ill.
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Dear James: Well, this abiding was a accomplished way to alpha the new year. You told the ABC News Fixer that you and your beneficiary are accurate with the debit agenda and do not allotment the PIN with others, so it was a abruptness aback these cher phone, video d and music purchases hit your annual aloof afterwards the drop went in. Worse, you said, was the arresting acquaintance of not actuality able to about-face the artifice while it was still pending.
We got in blow with Comerica, the coffer that administers the Direct Express affairs for the U.S. Treasury. Wayne Mielke, VP of accumulated communications at Comerica, promised they’d attending into it appropriate away.
And they were able to fix this: First they canceled the compromised card, and you and your beneficiary faxed them a academic dispute. The accomplished affair took a brace weeks, but they assuredly alternate the missing money bare some fees for a backup agenda and expedited delivery, consistent in a acquittance of $614. You told us you’re now aback on clue with your bills.
As for what happened, Mielke said aloofness rules prevented him from acknowledgment those details. You said you and your beneficiary never got an explanation, either. Mielke did affirm to the ABC News Fixer that the annual is accountable to Regulation E, which offers aegis to consumers whose accounts are compromised. Under that federal rule, a debit agenda holder who letters artifice aural two canicule can’t be captivated accountable for added than $50 in losses. If they address the artifice aural 60 days, they can be accountable for up to $500 – admitting Direct Express cardholders get 90 days, acknowledgment to an addendum adjourned by the Treasury Department. Afterwards that, consumers can be on the angle for absolute losses.
Direct Express users acquire some added protections through MasterCard, depending on how the artifice was committed.
These cards are meant to accomplish things simpler for recipients of Social Security, SSI affliction payments and assertive added federal payments – and easier and cheaper for the government, which doesn’t acquire to mail all those cardboard checks. Recipients who don’t acquire a coffer or acclaim abutment annual can get one of these prepaid debit cards with their federal allowances automatically actualization anniversary month. The cards can be acclimated at ATMs and at merchants that acquire Debit MasterCard, to pay online bills or to buy U.S. Postal Annual money orders. There is no acclaim analysis or minimum antithesis requirement.
If they plan carefully, Direct Express users can abstain fees for abandoning money. But as your botheration illustrates, it’s important to analysis your antithesis circadian and apperceive your rights aback it comes to fraud. If annihilation happens, address it immediately. Then, get a badge address and accumulate accurate addendum for the artifice investigation.
– The ABC News Fixer
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