Bank of America is facing a lawsuit in Arizona from prisoners who contend they are being forced to become customers of the bank because they are given a BoA debit card that also has high and unusual fees.
According to a federal class-action lawsuit, covered by Courthouse News Service, prisoners have to pay $15 each time they withdraw money from a teller. Daria Brill, the lead plaintiff in the case, argues Bank of America preys upon people as they are getting released from Arizona prisons. "If these individuals want their own money after they are released from prison, they are forced to accept a 'consumer relationship' with BofA," Brill and two other named plaintiffs said in a complaint filed Nov. 3. "BofA is the exclusive provider of debit cards issued to Arizona inmates upon their release from an Arizona corrections facility."
The report noted that, in Arizona, all prisoners who get out of jail have to accept the money they earned during their stint in jail on a Bank of America CashPay debit card. Because they don’t have any other options, they are forced to pay the fees to access their cash. "They get charged a fee just to walk up to a teller to find out how much money they have in their accounts," their attorney, Richard Golomb, said in the report. "The fees are based on a debit card contract that they never agreed to and never signed."
The lawsuit claims they are charged $15 to conduct a transaction with a teller and $2.50 to speak to a customer service rep via phone. Withdrawing cash at an ATM, even a BofA one, costs them $1.50 per withdrawal, the report noted.
In June, Courthouse News Service reported another class-action lawsuit in the same vein but against Chase. In that suit, prisoners alleged Chase added fees to the cards that it provides to federal prisoners — so much so that the cards are, in fact, useless outside of prison. The allegations come through a class-action suit of former inmates, reported the site. The group alleges that it was impossible to access money once these former inmates were outside the confines of prison.