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Menendez Bill Would Protect Consumers From Hidden Fees [AUDIO]

Senator Robert Menendez
Steven Henry, Getty Images

If you’re doing some last minute holiday shopping — pay attention to this. Unsuspecting consumers are finding out the hard way that prepaid cards often give you much less than you paid for, thanks to hidden fees. As consumers flock to retailers during the holiday season and as the use of prepaid cards continues to expand rapidly, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced “The Prepaid Card Consumer Protection Act” to curb hidden fees associated with many of these cards.

This act will eliminate some of the most egregious hidden fees and let consumers know what the fees are before they buy the cards. It will also let consumers get their money back if the cards are lost, stolen, or the company goes bankrupt. As it stands now, if the prepaid card is lost, stolen, or the company goes bankrupt, all monies on that card may be gone.

“This season, its hidden fees that are making for a Blue Christmas,” said Menendez. “We need to ensure that families who rely on prepaid cards are not surprised by hidden charges.”

“Consumers need to be very careful about using prepaid cards, because many of them are riddled with fees that add up quickly,” said Chuck Bell, Programs Director of Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports. “Prepaid cards also have weak financial protections that could leave consumers vulnerable to losing their money, if their card is lost or stolen.”

“Now that prepaid cards are becoming increasingly popular, Congress must act to rein in the high fees, and make sure consumers get the protections they deserve,” Bell said. “We commend Sen. Menendez for his leadership in introducing this important legislation, which we hope will be swiftly enacted by Congress.”

“NJPIRG, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group is pleased to join Senator Robert Menendez today as he continues his longstanding work to protect consumers in the financial marketplace. As more consumers buy reloadable prepaid cards – whether for the convenience, or because they are un-banked due to the recession caused by the Wall Street banks – it is critical that those consumers have consumer protections including disclosures up front and a ban on unfair fees. Senator Menendez’s bill will provide these and other important consumer protections.” said Gideon Weissman, NJPIRG Program Associate.

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