Are you a Direct Express cardholder and are frustrated with the level of service you are receiving? Have you been a victim of fraud with your debit card and did not get a satisfactory response from the Dispute Resolution department? You are not alone. In fact, there are thousands of frustrated cardholders like you. Some have even filed Direct Express lawsuits to try and some resolution.
In this post, we will review the most recent Direct Express Class Action lawsuit, and give you some tips on what you can do if you’ve been a victim of fraud and are trying to reach Direct Express and get your money back but have been unsuccessful.
NOTE: If you would like to write a review and rate your experience with Direct Express Customer Service or Dispute Resolution Department, see the review and ratings form immediately below the end of this article.
This post will cover:
- Why did the government choose the Direct Express Debit Card?
- Growing Reports of Fraud on Direct Express Debit Cards
- Recent Direct Express Lawsuits
- Federal Government Investigations of Direct Express
- How to Reach a Live Person at Direct Express and file a dispute
Why did the government choose the Direct Express Debit Card?
In 2013, the United States Department of Treasury decided to stop issuing paper checks for federal benefits payments.
As a result, 13 million Americans who were collecting federal benefits by check, including Social Security and Disability had to choose between direct deposit into a bank account or a government prepaid debit card called the Direct Express MasterCard.
The Direct Express debit card owned by the US Department of the Treasury.
The card is issued on behalf of the Department of the Treasury by Comerica Bank and serviced/managed by Conduent Business Services.
How Many People Use the Direct Express Card?
Over 4.5 million Americans receive their federal government benefits, including Social Security and disability payments via the Direct Express debit card.
However, that experience has not gone entirely smoothly due to increased fraudulent transactions targeted at Direct Express cardholders.
Growing Reports of Fraud on Direct Express Debit Cards
There have been countless media investigations of cardholder complaints of increased fraudulent activity on Direct Express debit card.
The media has reported horror stories of Direct Express cardholders targeted by fraud and left with no money as they battled to get their money back.
For example, this story by the local CBS station in Sacramento, California, shows how serious the problem is.
As the video below shows, Yasmin Snider of Citrus Heights relies heavily on her monthly Social Security payment of $618 to rent a room, buy food, and her medicine.
Her monthly payments are deposited on her government-issued Direct Express Prepaid MasterCard.
When Snider went to use her Direct Express MasterCard in the spring of 2018, she learned her entire $618 payment was taken.
She called Direct Express and learned somebody withdrew her entire monthly Social Security Payment from an ATM in Florida.
She does not know anybody in Florida and more importantly, has never been to Florida.
She did not have a penny to her name and was almost out of medicine. She had no money for food and was forced to rely on friends to feed her.
She was told by Direct Express customer service that it could take up to 90-days to investigate the fraud. In the meantime, she had no money.
Thousands of cardholders have had this experience and in some cases, even after Direct Express conducts an investigation, they are not able to get their money returned to their card.
Watch the video below for her full story.
Direct Express Lawsuits
In September 2019, a number of Direct Express cardholders filed a lawsuit in San Antonio federal court against Direct Express.
The federal lawsuit alleges thousands of retirees, veterans, and disabled people who receive federal benefits through Direct Express prepaid debit cards were fraud victims whose claims were routinely denied.
Furthermore, the lawsuits allege that Comerica Bank, which issues the cards, and Direct Express operator Conduent Business Services conducted “sham investigations” into the fraud charges before rejecting loss claims.
As a result, the suit alleges, Comerica and Conduent left Direct Express Debit MasterCard users “holding the bag on hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands of dollars of fraudulent charges by unauthorized persons.”
The lawsuit details each plaintiff’s experience with unauthorized withdrawals from their Direct Express account. Here are a few examples:
Jon Carnley used his card to buy a money order for $464.88 on Jan. 3 from an Alabama Walmart. Within seconds, the suit says, a $182.50 withdrawal was made on his card account from an Arizona Walmart.
Five days later, on Jan. 8, a duplicate money order was purchased for $466.88 using Carnley’s card information from the Alabama Walmart. But Carnley could not have made that money order request because he was in Pensacola, Fla., on his way to Houston to start cancer treatment, the suit says.
“Defendants refused to provide Mr. Carnley a provisional credit or do anything to stop the fraudulent transactions from draining his benefits account,” the suit says.
Federal Government Investigations of Direct Express
A government watchdog agency in charge of monitoring Comerica Bank and Conduent Business Services, the companies that issue and Manage the Direct Express debit card on behalf of the government came out with some disturbing news in September 2019.
The Inspector-General of the U.S. Treasury Department said it was in the dark about half a million dollars stolen from retiree and disability accounts via the Direct Express card.
An investigation conducted by the Office of United States Senator Elizabeth Warren discovered 480 people had their money virtually disappear out of their government accounts in 2018.
The Inspector-General of the U.S. Treasury didn’t know about the widespread fraud regarding Direct Express debit cards because the company contracted to administer the Direct Express program (Comerica Bank) failed to report it.
Despite this, the government renewed its contract with Comerica Bank in January 2020 for another five years. This means that Comerica will continue operating the Direct Express Debit Card program for Social Security recipients and veterans, according to a release.
According to the government, “The new agreement with Comerica Bank implements rigorous customer service requirements, requires more reporting, reduces cardholder fees for certain transactions, and lowers the overall cost to the federal government from the previous agreement”.
How to talk to a live person at Direct Express and file a dispute
Call Direct Express Customer Service toll-free at 1-888-741-1115 (available 24/7)
For English, (press 1), for Spanish (Press 2), for all other languages (press 3)
If you have your Direct Express card with you, then enter your 16-digit debit card number.
After entering your card number, a Direct Express customer service agent will answer your call shortly.
You may be put on a brief hold if all agents are currently assisting other customers when you call.
If you do not have your Direct Express card with you, then (Press 2) to access your account using your Social Security number.
If you do not have your Direct Express card number or Social Security number, here is what you need to do to talk to a live person:
Wait while the auto-attendant goes through the messages below a few times, then you will be transferred automatically to a customer service representative:
- We are sorry, we did not receive your selection – Please try again, your 16 digit card number is in front of your card, To re-enter your card number, press 1
- To access your card account information using your Social Security number, press 2
- To find out the status of your previously ordered card. press 3
- If your card has been lost, stolen or damaged, press 4
After the system goes through the above message three or four times, you will be transferred automatically to a customer service representative.
Other callers have reported longer hold times. If you do not have time to wait on hold, you may have to try calling at different times of the day to see if you are able to talk to a representative sooner.
Direct Express Lawsuits Summary
We hope this post on Direct Express Lawsuits was helpful.
If you have further questions about Direct Express Debit MasterCard, please let us know in the comments section below.