San Jose

Frozen Debit Card Could Prompt Fees

NBC Bay Area Responds

Like 4 million other consumers, Manny Mirabal in San Jose uses a popular reloadable debit card called a Green Dot card. For some people, it’s the only way they can pay with a card.

In Mirabal’s case, he says he deposited $500 to it and made purchases without incident.

But suddenly the card was declined when he tried to use it at a Starbucks. Mirabal said the card was not empty. It has $107 left on it, so the transaction should have been approved.

Mirabal told us he moved fast, because prepaid debit cardholders can be charged fees when there’s no account activity. But Mirabal says customer service did not answer.

So, he called us.

We called Green Dot and it quickly unfroze his $107 balance.

A spokesman explained that its systems flagged Mirabal’s card as potentially stolen or compromise. As for the call center backlog, the spokesman linked that to a tech outage.

Green Dot’s number one source of income includes fees -- a fact that can be found in its annual report. The company’s spokesman said customers don’t have to pay fees. He suggested that cardholders “actively monitor” their accounts to avoid unnecessary fees.  

We think that’s good advice for anyone who uses a prepaid card: use it or lose it.

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