JP Morgan Chase fees charged to families in South Carolina debit program

The StateJune 15, 2009 

The S.C. Department of Social Services has approved a debit card program that lets one of the nation’s largest banks take money directly from benefits issued to some of the state’s neediest families.

The agency hired JP Morgan Chase this spring to administer the program, which deposits money each month to a debit card issued to low-income residents with dependent children.

In return, JP Morgan Chase can charge those people fees when they use the card to access money and check their account balances.

Some critics, including Bonnie Clore of Wampee, say the fees are taking money away from children who are supposed to benefit from the agency’s programs.

Clore gets $160 a month to take care of two foster children.

“I’m not getting a lot, but I’d like to keep the money rather than see it go to some bank,” said Clore, who has been hit with about $7 in fees since the program started May 1.

Instead of receiving a check each month, participants in the state’s Family Independence program now are given a debit card that is credited with funds whenever benefits are due. Beneficiaries are not allowed to receive their money any other way.

The program is affecting a growing number of S.C. residents as the economy tightens.

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