JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay nearly half a million dollars to settle a class action lawsuit brought by former prisoners who claimed that the bank was ripping them off with debit card fees.
Under a contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, JPMorgan provides debit cards to inmates when they are released so that they can receive prison job wages and funds sent to them from family and friends for commissary purchases.
However, a lawsuit accused the bank of exploiting "one of the most vulnerable groups imaginable" with $10 fees for withdrawing money from tellers windows, $2 charges for using non-network ATMs, and 45 cent hits for balance inquiries.
In a filing in federal court, reported by Bloomberg, JPMorgan agreed to pay thousands of ex-prisoners a total of $446,822 in a settlement. The bank will also pay up to $250,000 in plaintiff attorney fees and costs.
According to the complaint, prisoners were required to get the cards and were not allowed to review or approve terms and conditions.
Lead plaintiff Jesse Krimes told Bloomberg: "The debit cards aren’t necessarily problematic until they charge us these large fees that they don’t charge normal civilians. Chase was preying on a vulnerable population."