CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — Yasmin Snider collects her Social Security benefits through a government debit card. But when someone stole her money, it was time to call Kurtis.
Snider is battling stage four breast cancer and now she’s battling the bank behind her Direct Express MasterCard, where she gets her $618 a month Social Security payment.
Someone stole her money, leaving her with no way to buy food or medicine. She said the money vanished; Direct Express told her the money was withdrawn from an ATM in Florida.
“I said, Florida. I don’t know anybody in Florida. I’ve never been to Florida,” said Snider.
A commercial for the Direct Express MasterCard calls the card a safe, easy, and convenient way to get your federal benefits but Snider says Comerica Bank, which runs the Direct Express MasterCard, told her it could take 90 days to investigate.
In the meantime, she had no money and was afraid she’ll end up homeless.
“I just want some answers, I don’t feel that I should have to wait 90 days,” said Snider. “It’s not a lot of money, but it’s a lot to me.”
We’ve long told you prepaid debit cards or debit cards tied to checking accounts may leave you at risk because if a fraudster takes your money you have to fight to get it back. But what other options do you have to collect Social Security benefits?
A paper check is no longer an option. Social Security stopped paper checks in 2013. Now you can have it direct deposited into a bank or checking account or get your money deposited on the Direct Express card.
Presently 4.5 million Americans get their Social Security benefits through Direct Express MasterCard.
After we got involved Comerica put the money back in Snider’s account.
“I can pay my rent, and I can get my medication,” said Snider “I’m very grateful to channel 13.”
We reached out to Comerica who says when it comes to fraud, customers should get a provisional credit during an investigation.
They suggest to always check the withdrawal and deposit amounts on your ATM receipts. If there is a problem with the amount, contact Comerica immediately.
FULL Q&A WITH COMERICA:
It is important to note that Comerica is the administrator of the Direct Express program, which is a federal payment program for federal benefits. Comerica does not have control over the rules that are applied in such matters and simply administers the program as approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury.
1. What can people do to protect their accounts?
The general information that Comerica provides to all of its customers on how to protect themselves from identity theft or fraudulent activity also apply to this situation.
2. What can people do when there’s fraud on their account?
Calling the number on the back of the Direct Express card is the best way to obtain information or help with any issues, including questions and concerns regarding transactions on the card.
3. How soon can people get their money back?
An investigation begins right away. The timing depends on a number of factors including the facts of the case.
4. Can a provisional credit be applied to someone’s account if fraud is suspected?
The Direct Express program complies with all aspects of Regulation E which protects consumers in the case of fraudulent use of their electronic access device which includes providing provisional credit.
5. Has there been a breach of information from your system?
The Direct Express system has not been breached.