Just when you thought credit cards were the only plastic culprits you had to watch out for, prepaid debit cards are crashing on the watch list of consumer advocacy groups. Many Americans who have lost access to bank accounts and credit cards due to bad credit, wage garnishments or bounced checks are the biggest target of companies selling prepaid debit cards. Basically a prepaid debit card is a reloadable electronic account that acts like a debit card or credit card. The prepaid debit cards are not affiliated with banks and not subject to federal laws regulating banks.

Household names such as Wal-Mart and H&R Block are selling the debit cards; but the consumer fees are often steep and unexpected. Some the cards even expire a customer’s balance if the card is not used after a certain amount of time. Also, many of the prepaid debit cards only offer access to account information via the internet or text message, limiting information to customers who don’t have internet or cell phone access.

If you’re considering a prepaid debt card, make sure you read the fine print before you part with you hard earned cash.

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