Consumer agency fines Mastercard, UniRush $13M over prepaid cards

Consumer agency fines Mastercard, UniRush $13M over prepaid cards
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Financial regulators have ordered Mastercard and UniRush to pay $13 million in payments and fines for leaving tens of thousands of customers unable to access their own money through prepaid cards.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) action is in response to a breakdown of the companies’ RushCard system. The reloadable prepaid debit card is advertised as a way for consumers to get their paychecks and other direct deposits on their card “up to two days sooner.” 

But the CFPB said the system went down in October 2015 when Mastercard switched its processing platform, a move the companies spent 13 months preparing for.

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As a result, the bureau said customers were left without access to the funds stored on their cards for days and, in some cases, weeks. Deposits for more than 45,000 customers were delayed and transactions were declined because Mastercard failed to provide UniRush with accurate information about account balances.

The companies have been ordered to pay customers $10 million in restitution and another $3 million in civil penalties.    

“Mastercard and UniRush’s failures cut off tens of thousands of vulnerable consumers from their own money, and threw some into a personal financial crisis,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement.

“The companies must set things right for consumers and make sure such devastating service disruptions are not repeated.”