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Wall Street Banks Extract Enormous Fees From The Paychecks Of Millions Of American Workers

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Greed - Photo by J. Solana from Madrid, SpainWould you be angry if you had to pay a big Wall Street bank a fee before you could get the money that you worked so hard to earn?  Unfortunately, that is exactly the situation that millions of American workers find themselves in today.  An increasing number of U.S. companies are paying their workers using payroll cards that are issued by large financial institutions.  Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Walgreens and Taco Bell are just some of the well known employers that are doing this.  Today, there are 4.6 million active payroll cards in the United States, and some of the largest banks in the country are issuing them.  The list includes JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup.  The big problem with these cards is that there is often a fee for just about everything that you do with them.  Do you want to use an ATM machine?  You must pay a fee.  Do you want to check your balance?  You must pay a fee.  Do you want a paper statement?  You must pay a fee.  Did you lose your card?  You must pay a big fee.  Has your card been inactive for a while?  You must pay a huge fee.  The big Wall Street banks are systematically extracting enormous fees from the working poor, and someone needs to do something to stop this.

The truth is that most American families need every penny that they earn.  In America today, 53 percent of all workers make less than $30,000 a year.

It is hard to do everything that you need to do on less than $2,500 a month.  If you doubt this, you should try it some time.

That is one reason why the fees that the big Wall Street banks hit payroll card users with are so insidious.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent CNBC article about this phenomenon…

But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.

Devonte Yates, 21, who earns $7.25 an hour working a drive-through station at a McDonald’s in Milwaukee, says he spends $40 to $50 a month on fees associated with his JPMorgan Chase payroll card.

If you are just barely scraping by every month, can you really afford to be paying $50 a month in fees to the fatcats at JPMorgan Chase?

Of course not.

But JPMorgan Chase is far from alone.  Just check out all of the fees that another large financial institution is hitting users with…

On some of its payroll cards, NetSpend charges $2.25 for out-of-network A.T.M. withdrawals, 50 cents for balance inquiries via a representative, 50 cents for a purchase using the card, $5 for statement reprints, $10 to close an account, $25 for a balance-protection program and $7.50 after 60 days of inactivity, according to an April presentation by the company reviewed by The Times.

They are taking advantage of extremely vulnerable people and they know it.

And we see this kind of thing happening with other types of cards as well.  For example, in some states unemployment benefits are now deposited on prepaid debit cards, and the banks that issue these cards are more than happy to extract huge fees from unemployed people

Shawana Busby does not seem like the sort of customer who would be at the center of a major bank’s business plan. Out of work for much of the last three years, she depends upon a $264-a-week unemployment check from the state of South Carolina. But the state has contracted with Bank of America to administer its unemployment benefits, and Busby has frequently found herself incurring bank fees to get her money.

To withdraw her benefits, Busby, 33, uses a Bank of America prepaid debit card on which the state deposits her funds. She could visit a Bank of America ATM free of charge. But this small community in the state’s rural center, her hometown, does not have a Bank of America branch. Neither do the surrounding towns where she drops off her kids at school and attends church.

She could drive north to Columbia, the state capital, and use a Bank of America ATM there. But that entails a 50 mile drive, cutting into her gas budget. So Busby visits the ATMs in her area and begrudgingly accepts the fees, which reach as high as five dollars per transaction. She estimates that she has paid at least $350 in fees to tap her unemployment benefits.

There is something that is so greedy about all of this.

When the financial crisis hit back in 2008, the big banks had no problem begging the entire nation for mercy.

But when it comes time to show mercy to the poor, they tell us that it is “just business”.

In America today, there are tens of millions of families that are just barely surviving from month to month.  The big banks should not be preying on them like this.

With each passing year, the ranks of the working poor in this country continue to get larger.  The following statistics are from one of my previous articles entitled “35 Statistics About The Working Poor In America That Will Blow Your Mind“…

#1 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

#2 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either “poor” or “low income”.

#3 Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”.  Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.

#4 Back in 2007, 21 million U.S. children lived in “working poor” homes.  Today, that number is up to 23.5 million.

#5 In Arkansas, Mississippi and New Mexico, more than 40 percent all of working families are considered to be “low income”.

#6 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#7 Half of all American workers earn $505 or less per week.

#8 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#9 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#10 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years.

#11 Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.

#12 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#13 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#14 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#15 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#16 Low income families spend about 8.6 percent of their incomes on gasoline.  Other families spend about 2.1 percent.

#17 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#18 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#19 Millions of working poor families in America end up taking on debt in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, but before too long they find themselves in a debt trap that they can never escape.  According to a recent article in the New York Times, the average debt burden for U.S. households that earn $20,000 a year or less “more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010“.

#20 In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

You can find the rest of the list right here.

The working poor simply cannot afford to be paying hundreds of dollars in fees to the big banks each year just to use the money that they worked so very hard to earn.

Unfortunately, we seem to be living during a time when the big financial institutions will squeeze every nickel that they possibly can out of average Americans no matter how high the human cost is.

  • Chris

    Answer: nationalize the lot of them.

    • kfilly

      The better answer is to barter. Screw the banks and the gubernment as much as possible. Our gubernment is owned by the corportations so we need to starve that beast also.

  • K

    Yes they will continue to beat every penny out of the general public. Yes their plea as they abuse the poor is, it’s just business. One day that statement will rank right up there with, I was only following orders. There is one word for such empty soulless people, Evil.

    • markthetruth

      Soon they’ll be working for food stamps.

      the end..

    • Mondobeyondo

      That’s the idea. Beat you out of every penny you have to your name.

      “Beat me outta me (oh yeah! oh yeah!)
      “Beat me outta me (oh yeah! oh yeah!)
      “Beat me outta me (oh yeah! oh yeah!)*

      * – Nirvana, “Aneurisym”

    • markthetruth

      Well you think that’s bad, the Mother of all Taxes is coming and there’s no escaping this one .

      Eight states raise their gas tax,

      Soon to be 50 states.

      Tighten your seat belts because were going to be ” Taken for a Ride ”

      the end…

      • K

        Notice Obama is going to delay enforcing health care on big business for a year. But it still starts for the little guy on schedule. Business and government working together to drain the general public’s pocket. The fascist states of America continues to increase the grip it has on the general public’s throat.

        • markthetruth

          Yep ! The big business have the power, but it doesn’t really effect the big Corps as they provide decent health care anyway, so it’s a slight of hand trick to fool the Public.

          the end…

        • Sequoia

          Gerald Celente said that We live in a fascist country.Four words killed capitalism,TOO BIG TO FAIL.
          The Amerikan goernment is controlled by the big corporations,and the sheeple have to work for them,pay taxes to them and die for them in bloody business wars,
          This is the USSA and the sheelpe thin this a free country,and the people have say in this corrupt government.

          • Poopy Head

            Amen. I have grown to despise this “nation.” We are slaves to Massah Obama and the rest of the power structure. I despise this nation. So sad, because many in my family fought and died for it. But that was a different country, and a different time, a different people, and a different elite. It is the difference between ice cream and excrement. We live in the latter at this point.

      • markthetruth

        Happy █………….█ of July Everyone.

        the end…

    • energizedmortal

      All that are empty soulless evil people will have to die of something one day. Sadly, the ideas and legacy of such evil acts remain.

      • Louise in MO

        Yes, they will all die. The evil they have done here will remain here. HOWEVER, eternity with the father of evil is their just due!

  • EconomyTrap

    Slowly forcefeeding the public into accepting the imminent digital age of a cashless society. And then comes the Mark! Revelation 13:16-17

    • Louise in MO

      I absolutely agree! The mark is imminent! I think it will be a microchip.

  • Tim

    Thanks for writing about this. Something really needs to be done about this problem. It’s a crime.

    • Ayn Rand

      It is seriously disgusting to take advantage of people like that. If I had one of those, I would just withdraw the entire balance with each payment.

    • markthetruth

      See Egypt well they have what it takes, we just take the abuse and live on and complain. Where are worst enemy’s

      the end…

    • Mondobeyondo

      And the criminals are getting away scot-free.
      Something must be done about this.
      Unfortunately, nobody is doing anything.

  • MichaelfromTheEconomicCollapse

    A reader alerted me to this issue, and I think that it a perfect example of the greed that is consuming the banking community.

    What about all of you guys? Are you as outraged as I am?

    • Tim

      It’s absolutely outrageous. With some of these cards, there are ways to get all of your money without paying any fees. But many people don’t know how to do it.

    • Rodster

      Eventually the only outrage will be when those individuals have had enough and will be protesting like they currently are in Egypt, Turkey, Hong Kong and China.

    • Mondobeyondo

      Steal from the needy, to help the greedy.
      Works every time.

      • sequoia


    • chilller

      Another spoke in the gigantic wheel of corporate greed that runs over us all on a daily basis.


    My parents and both grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They lived into there late 90s. They told me stories about how banks were back in those times and how they ripped people off and took there homes and everything they had. It appears to me banks haven’t changed very much over the years. I don’t use a credit card unless I have no choice and if I do I pay it off in full at the end of the month. I have never had a devite card I won’t pay the fees.

  • JailBanksters

    When governments make it illegal to be paid by any means other than through a Bank, there is something wrong. You are forced to pay bank fees, governments have made it impossible to not pay banks for your daily existence. It’s like mandating Insurance, health you are guaranteeing business.

  • 2Gary2

    Piecemeal reforms won’t do the trick and neither will new taxes. A
    serious and comprehensive approach to the problems created by the decay
    of zombie capitalist societies requires a fundamental solution including
    passage of a Constitutional overhaul that eliminates the power of the
    rich by taxing them for any income over $250,000.00 per year from any
    and all sources and a new and expanded Bill of Rights that empowers and
    protects working people.

    We also need constitutional amendments guaranteeing socialized
    medicine, quality housing, nutrition, free education and trade union
    levels of pay and benefits for workers, women and children in single
    parent families, students, retirees, job trainees, disabled persons and
    the unemployed.

    Nothing less will do. Those goals can be met by the left and the emergent union left when we break with

    • Shmeggle Marxist

      you should get together with gayveteran and 69

    • Robert (qslv)

      So the world owes you a living, Gary? Not enough that we give you free food, free housing, free Obamaphone, free healthcare, free internet?
      Get a job and stop being a parasite, Gary. You will gain self -respect and the respect of your peers when you stop being a parasite and join the human race.

      • Shmeggle Marxist

        gary dreams of a 69 with gayveteran

  • xander cross

    I know about this first hand and when you work at companies like this, you either take the pre pay debit card or you have your check direct deposited into your bank account. Credit unions would be best for this matter. They are trying to get rid of paper checks all in the name of ”enviromental cleanliness”.

  • MichaelfromTheEconomicCollapse

    By the way, I am sending a free copy of the Kindle version of my new book entitled “The Beginning Of The End” to any blog owner that will feature the novel in their sidebar or do a blog post about it.

    If you run a blog or a website and you want to take me up on this offer, just go to my Contact page and you can find my email there…


  • markthetruth

    Incentives encourage us to rip off customers, admit bankers as three quarters say excessive pay can encourage them to break the law

    More than 1,000 finance workers were surveyed about pay in the industry
    75% said some bankers are ‘still paid excessively’
    Two-thirds say they ‘inappropriate behavior is encouraged

    the end…

  • Stezie

    Kind of disturbing how these people keep getting away with these crimes. It’s very indicative of who is really in charge.

  • david

    Why do you allow an advetisement fora Visa card if the evils of banks are so repulsive to you?

  • squashpants

    Yes, I am in the 57% considered poor or low income. I am retired, but can only afford to live off a yearly budget of about 35k. But am I really poor? True, I don’t have cable TV. But then I don’t want it, don’t consider it a good value. Yes, I do not have a cell phone. Neither do I want one. I do not need to be constantly in touch with anyone, and a cell phone is just not worth the expense and trouble it brings. I don’t have a big car. Or two big cars. One is all I need, and it’s a cute little Kia, 8 years old, but well taken care of and utterly reliable. We never are hungry, and I own a nice little condo just perfect for our needs. Whatever toys we would like to have, we get cheaply online. And to top it off, I have enough resources that I can prepare for TEOTWAWKI. No, I don’t feel poor at all, but I am certainly not rich. Don’t need to be. Don’t want to be. If you do, more power to you.

    • Ralfine

      “only” 35k per year? not counting the 9000sqft mansion, right?

      • squashpants

        I am impressed that you live on roughly 15,000 dollars a year. You are clearly a better manager than I. LOL!

        • sharonsj

          I was living on only $12,000 a year. You can save a lot of money if you never leave home….

          • squashpants

            I am sure. While we can, though, we are not averse to running the car. After the SHTF, it will be bicycles.

          • Ralfine

            i usually walk everywhere i need to be. saves money for the bus, and my shoes are more difficult to steal than a bike. 5km/h

  • JoeD

    That’ll happen when maximization of shareholder value is considered to be the primary purpose of the corporation. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect infinite growth in profits in a world of finite resources.

    It’s taken us awhile to get this far, but in the end they’ll get it all.

  • Richard

    “#9 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.”

    Michael, this is a favored technique of yours – using the redundant “does ” or “is” or “has”, etc. at the end of certain sentences. I’ve never mentioned it before because there were other things to talk about. But IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Read it slowly and think about it. What you have ACTUALLY said is that the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than… Your “does” replaces the “has” earlier in the sentence… but the “has” indicates an ongoing comparative which clearly is not what you mean. If the sentence had read, “the United States has a high percentage of workers doing low wage work but no other major industrialized nation does”, the meaning, of course, would be different but the sentence would make perfect sense for reasons which I hope are obvious to you by now. In fact, what you might say could be, “today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers
    doing low wage work than that of any other major industrialized nation.” I’d be interested to know if you get my point…

    • kathy k

      Iam glad does has or is IS all you have to worry about

    • MichaelfromTheEconomicCollapse

      I am a grammar rebel. 🙂


    • Louise in MO

      I used to carry a card in my wallet that said the following: “unless you are a person’s Mother or school teacher, it is wrong for you to correct another person’s grammar.”

  • Ralfine

    not having a job saves you a lot of money for tax, banking fees, commuting, work clothes, stress medication, anxiety medication, accident treatment,

  • Ralfine

    dont tax the rich but charge the poor

  • Ralfine

    switch your bank. there is always one with lower fees.
    if the employer does not give you the money written in the contract, he is in breach of contract.

  • chilller

    Pull all the cash out the first time you use it…keep it safe or put in CU.

  • big brother society

    This is the danger of electronic money. We are heading to a big brother society! Wake up!

    • Louise in MO

      We are also heading to the “mark of the beast which everyone must have to buy or to sell.” This method described is in The Book Of Revalation.

      I believe, along with many others, that we are headed for a microchip system. It’s already possible and available.

  • tom

    What happened to the old “paycheck” that people could cash at their employer, bank , credit union or even check cashing place? Are all the employees at these businesses being paid this way? Could it be that illegal immigrants are working there and this is how they are paid? DO the employees paid by card get a statement showing what deductions for taxes etc are coming out of their pay?

  • Rufus T Firefly

    The banksters once again shaving the sheeple. Loves it.

  • Ralfine

    Might be prudent to ask some immigrants how they escaped their government?

  • I wonder what kind of kick-back these employers are getting from the Banksters to screw their minimum wage employees.

    What kind of company does this, and moreover, why would anyone do business with them? If they will do this to their own employees, what can you expect as a customer?

    Make note, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Walgreens and Taco Bell, dishonest businesses.

  • Tom

    The working poor need to get smarter. It does cost an employer some $$ to do payroll and write a check, then it also costs the working poor $$ to have a checking account.

    The simple, mind-blowing answer – if you are low income, take all your wages out in one withdrawal, paying the $1.75, and pay cash or get a money order for your expenses for which you simply need a check.

    It’s not hard to avoid stupidity if you use your brain.

  • Dave Webb

    I suggest join a credit union that has different rules than these banksters. Better interest rates, free checking, and a lot more!
    Why hasn’t some lawyer pulled a class action against them yet?

    Personally, I feel an old fashioned check in the mail or direct deposit works a lot better. But when the state and the bank are in bed together, it is difficult to not get stolen from.
    There are a lot of gangsters in suits out there right now. Shame is we cannot put them in jail.

  • Randy Townsend

    Not defending all of the charges, but a little perspective is in order: 50 years ago, you received a paper paycheck, either in person or in the mail. You drove to the bank to deposit the check and waited for it to clear to be able to access your money (I remember doing this). There were no credit cards and no ATM’s, convenience didn’t exist. Today, it is almost instantaneous – convenience has a cost. All the computer networks cost $ to build and maintain. Before we jump on the bandwagon to crucify the banks, we should appreciate how easier life is because of the advances in technology, none of which is free.

  • Joe Kleinkamp

    I, Joe, approach Tom and tell him Jim wants to borrow $100 and will pay him back over one year’s time with installments beginning in one month. Tom has lent Jim money before and knows Jim pays back his loans. He also knows Jim has good credit with a lot of other people. So Tom hands me $100 to bring to Jim and I promptly spend it on myself. Two months later Tom asks Jim for his money. Jim asks, “What money?” Tom reminds him of the money he gave to me borrowed in Jim’s name. Jim, of course, has no knowledge of this and refuses to pay Tom. Tom sues Jim and warns all of Jim’s creditors that Jim is a dishonest deadbeat. Jim can no longer borrow money until he spends hours of his time and a lot more than he can afford over the next several years trying to regain his good name. In case you haven’t figured it out, Tom is a bank, Jim is a victim of identity theft and I, Joe am the thief. One more example of how the banks have the rules written to their advantage.

  • seth datta

    You’d think with ears sticking out like that,
    he’d actually listen to what the public says….

  • Louise in MO

    This goes beyond the pale. Not only are the big banks bleeding the people mentioned in your article, but so are their employers who issue these payroll cards.

    The employers save money by using this type of payroll system. Again, these people also make money off of their own employees!

    Is there no end to greed?

  • frank1569

    Never one to defend Big Criminal Banks or Big Greedy Corporations, but, presently, I’m working for the 2nd largest ______ corporation in America (unnamed for job security reasons,) and receive my measly weekly pay via debit card.

    This corp, as with most on the list above, offers employees a choice – the card, a paper check, or direct deposit. ALL fees, charges, etc potentially associated with each choice are FULLY EXPLAINED, both vocally and in the pamphlet. If an employee chooses a pay method that ends up costing him money, well, tough toenails.

    This corp, as with most on the list, also offer ways to avoid all employee debit pay card fees and charges. For example, ALL cash withdraws in ANY of the hundreds of stores nationwide are free. Money orders (for rent) and third-party bill pays are free, too, (if you debit directly from the card.) Online accounting, customer service, email alerts when deposits are made – free.

    I’ve had the card nearly a year now, and I have not paid a cent in fees, special charges, whatever. As a matter of fact, the card cover so many free bases, I closed my account with the Biggest Criminal Bank of the Big Criminal Banks.

    Moral of the story: don’t be a moron, and you won’t get ripped off (as much.)

  • Shaka

    I am a total laissez faire guy but DESPISE the banks because they are NOT laissez faire but rather LOVE their socialist protectionist racket.

    Seriously hate them. But no worries. They will get theirs. Be patient.

  • Rogoraeck

    What??? Are you insinuating that WS Brokers & Bankers can’t make money from the US slaves/serfs!
    I am shocked, that you could have such an opinion!
    What’s good for WS Bankers & Brokers is good for the USA!

  • GS

    “If you are just barely scraping by every month, can you really afford to be paying $50 a month in fees to the fatcats at JPMorgan Chase?

    Of course not.

    There is something that is so greedy about all of this.”

    Seems like a quote directly from Atlas Shrugged.

  • jacob

    I work for one of these corporations, I am 27 years old, I made just over $17,000 last year, I live with a friend (a former coworker), I have been with the company for almost 4 years, I only get (average) 32 hours a week, and I have just gone back to school. Outside of financial aid, I don’t get any kind of assistance.
    I know a lot of people who use these payroll check-cards. I had a bank account when I started there, but I didn’t have to set up direct deposit because they still issued paper checks. When they stopped with paper checks, I did set up direct deposit rather than using the card the company offered.
    Today, I still get money direct deposited into my bank account. However, I now have the companies payroll card as well. I can select a predetermined amount (I do $60 from every paycheck) to go onto the card. I use this for gas and groceries and it doesn’t charge me anything to use it. It would if I used it at atm’s, if I called for a statement, etc. But I use it because I get a discount on gas at a particular gas station for using it.
    The payroll card, used ignorantly can cost employees money. But used properly, it can save money and help us working-poor folks organize and manage our money effectively.


    THE BANKS control everything,INCLUDING,THE POLICE GANG ENFORCERS,..I hear people bitch about whats going on,THESE BANKERS are protected and you cheer them on,YOU CAN’T BE SAVED,america is ,its own worst enemy,STUPID is how the wind blows in america,YOU COULD protect your self,but no you want TERRORISTS to protect you,and their going to make you PAY,money always goes to the pockets of the biggest gang,and their protected by stupid………………………..

  • New Java

    We built a solution to this in 2009. Mobile payment as card. Similar to paypal or venucation’s machines. If anyone has access to seed funding then we can ramp it back up possibly. would be a godsend to these “backbone” of america people and with bitcoin and other innovators, its timely.

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