In October 2015, a series of failures by Mastercard and UniRush meant that many customers couldn’t use their RushCard to get their paychecks and other direct deposits, take out cash, make purchases, pay bills, or get accurate balance information, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Tuesday.
UniRush then failed to provide customer service to many consumers who asked for help during the breakdown. The bureau has ordered Mastercard and UniRush to pay about $10 million in restitution to thousands of harmed customers. The bureau also fined Mastercard and UniRush $3 million.
“Mastercard and UniRush’s failures cut off tens of thousands of vulnerable consumers from their own money, and threw some into a personal financial crisis,” said Richard Cordray, director of the bureau. “The companies must set things right for consumers and make sure such devastating service disruptions are not repeated.”
UniRush is the program manager for RushCard, a reloadable prepaid debit card. Mastercard International is the current payment processor for the RushCard.
RushCard is advertised as a way for consumers to get direct deposits on their card “up to two days sooner.” These deposits include government benefits or payroll funds.
In 2014, UniRush picked Mastercard as its new payment processor. Mastercard and UniRush spent 13 months preparing to switch to Mastercard’s processing platform, which took place Oct. 10-12, 2015. At the time of the switch, RushCard had about 650,000 users, of which about 270,000 received direct deposits on their RushCard.
The bureau received about 830 consumer complaints from RushCard users in the weeks that followed the switch in payment processors.
In addition to paying $13 million, Mastercard and UniRush agreed to draw up a plan to prevent future problems. It includes devising a plan to prevent future service disruptions. The bureau will monitor the companies for compliance as they carry out the plan.