These cards are meant to make things simpler for recipients of Social Security, SSI disability payments and certain other federal payments – and easier and cheaper for the government, which doesn't have to mail all those paper checks. Recipients who don't have a bank or credit union account can get one of these prepaid debit cards with their federal benefits automatically appearing each month. The cards can be used at ATMs and at merchants that accept Debit MasterCard, to pay online bills or to buy U.S. Postal Service money orders. There is no credit check or minimum balance requirement.
If they plan carefully, Direct Express users can avoid fees for withdrawing money. But as your problem illustrates, it's important to check your balance daily and know your rights when it comes to fraud. If anything happens, report it immediately. Then, get a police report and keep careful notes for the fraud investigation.
- The ABC News Fixer