A while ago, I discussed how the battle over credit and debit fees is really a battle over how much money should cost and whom you’re paying that cost to: corporations or government. Well, the corporate takeover of the monetary base continues unabated, this time affecting Social Security. You see, in the name of efficiency, the Social Security Administration is moving to direct deposit, whether you like or it not. So what’s the problem with that? Well, there are some interesting…features (italics mine):
If you click on the “About the Direct Express Card” link, the second paragraph says:
There are no sign-up fees, monthly fees or overdraft charges. No bank account or credit check is required to enroll. Cardholders can make purchases, pay bills and get cash at thousands of ATMs and retail locations.
So far, so good. But here’s the last sentence in that paragraph:
Some fees for optional services may apply.
Oh, some fees — okay! Now scroll down a bit and check out the fine print (which is probably too fine for a lot of older people to read). You’re allowed one (as in ONE!) free ATM cash withdrawal for every payment you receive each month. After that, you will pay 90 cents per withdrawal.
But wait … there’s more. Even the first “free” withdrawal is only free if you use “one of the more than 50,000 surcharge-free network ATMs.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are other fees for everything from requesting a paper statement (75 cents) to transferring your own money to your own bank account ($1.50).
That’s right, we’re charging old people dependent on Social Security and who are often living close to the bone user fees to access their Social Security payments. Actually, we is not the correct pronoun–MasterCard is.
I’m sure the efficiency goobers can make the case that this will save money, but sovereign governments should not give private corporations the power and prerogative to charge people for access to their government pensions.
I’m starting to think Louk had the right idea.
Related: The details are unclear, but California has shifted its aid distribution over to a system run by Bank of America. It does appear that claimants will have to use Bank of America to avoid fees.