Pre-paid palaver

The latest Absolvitor offering on the solicitors’ blog is a piece which asks the question “Are pre-paid card charges legal?”.

And before you ask, this is not a variation on the bank charges campaign theme. In fact, this is a more serious, potentially far more sinister issue.

As concerns rise that some pre-paid card firms are targeting poorer areas of Glasgow with their wares, the situation many benefit claimants find themselves in involves card firms skimming off an admin fee for receiving their money and another fee for releasing it through an ATM or similar. The charges vary from card to card, but if social security benefits are meant to be inalienable (which they are) then is it legal to take a cut before the claimant can get at their money?

To put it another way, if it is/was a criminal offence for someone to take your benefit book (even with your permission) receive your social security money, then take a proportion to satisfy a debt before passing the remainder on to you – then why is this okay?

Join the debate at the Govan Law Centre blog.

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