BofA settles debit fee case with Arizona ex-prisoners

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Bank of America has agreed to repay former Arizona state prison inmates for fees they were charged to access debit card funds when they were released from prison in the settlement of a class-action lawsuit announced Tuesday.

The bank, which has had a contract since 2012 to provide debit card services to prisoners in Arizona’s state system, charged plaintiffs $15 to withdraw cash from a teller and other fees, which exceeded fees for general customers, according to reports.

In a pre-settlement agreement, BofA said it will pay up to $168,000 to as many as 70,000 former inmates, and the bank also agreed to stop charging the fees as of April 2017, reports said.
According to the suit, former inmates in Arizona's state prison system were required to pay a $15 fee for teller-assisted transactions, compared with other customers who were charged nothing for the same type of transaction. Inmates also were charged $15 for each card replacement, whereas other customers had one fee waiver per year and paid $5 thereafter for each card replacement.

BofA provided the CashPay Debit Card to inmates upon their release in a contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections, for a system replacing checks, which were sometimes difficult for former inmates to cash.

Former inmates must file claims before Aug. 18, 2017.

"This was a standard pre-paid card program with transparent terms," said Will Wilson, a BofA, spokesperson, adding: "We believe resolving the matter is in the best interests of everyone involved."

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