Republicans Are Trying to Make Banking More Expensive For the Lowest Income Americans

Late last year, Congress passed a rule that essentially gave pre-paid debit and credit card holders the same rights and privileges afforded to those with traditional debit and credit cards. It spelled out what pre-paid card companies must do to protect their customers’ rights.

About half of all Americans either use pre-paid accounts regularly in lieu of traditional credit or bank accounts, or have received a pre-paid card as a gift. Most of those who use pre-paid accounts earn well below the median wage for the U.S. with a large number of users earning below poverty level.

Now, in a brazen attempt to curtail the rights citizens have to their own money, Republicans have introduced a joint resolution (H.J.Res 62) in both houses of Congress to roll back the rule.

The regulations set to go into effect in October of this year mandate that account access be freely available over the telephone and the internet, since pre-paid account holders do not get snail-mail statements like bank account holders. In addition, the same rights regarding disputed transactions and lost cards that credit card holders now have will be available to pre-paid card holders.

As it stands now, if you lose your pre-paid card and someone else finds it and uses it for a shopping spree, you are completely out of luck in recovering that money. The new CFPB rule will limit your responsibility to $50, just like a standard credit card.

Without this rule in place, tens of millions of Americans may fall victim to predatory pre-paid card practices, designed to bilk every penny possible from the consumer just for the privilege of using their own money.

Read more: No-Slack: The Financial Lives of Low-Income Americans