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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

N.J. lawmakers seek crackdown on GPR card fees

Three New Jersey legislators sponsored a bill designed to limit fees charged on general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards and require GPR card providers to disclose certain information to consumers. Among its provisions, A 2144 would require monthly account statements be issued to GPR cardholders if they cannot access statements online, over the phone or via ATMs.

The bill would allow for monthly, reload, money transfer, pay-by-check, ATM cash withdrawal and card replacement fees. But the bill would not allow for a host of other fees, including annual, overdraft, usage at the POS, inactivity/dormancy and balance inquiry fees.

A 2144 was introduced Jan. 30, 2012, by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, D-Union, Middlesex and Somerset, and Assemblymen Troy Singleton, D-Burlington/Camden, and Benjie E. Wimberly, D- Bergen and Passaic, with additional support from N.J. State Sen. Nicholas P. Scutari, D-Union, Middlesex and Somerset.

In a statement, the lawmakers said the legislation was "inspired by numerous reported accounts of the exorbitant hidden fees that, in some cases, depleted a great deal of the funds deposited by hard-working, low-income consumers."

"Since prepaid debit cards are most often used by those with little to no credit or those without a bank account, undisclosed and hidden prepaid debit card fees serve as another example of these financial institutions unfairly taking advantage of those already struggling in these tough economic times," Scutari said.

"The prepaid debit card industry has been described as the Wild West where very few regulations exist," Stender added.

Neither Scutari nor Stender could be reached for comment. end of article

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