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Debit Cards For Unemployment Benefits In North Carolina

Tom Murphy reports for The Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram that the Employment Security Commission of N.C. will soon stop mailing checks to unemployed people who qualify for benefits and replace them with debit cards.

The debit cards can be used at almost any retail outlet where MasterCard is accepted to buy goods, such as groceries, and get cash back at that same point of sale – and avoid a check-cashing fee.

The new card will provide many new features, which will create a "win-win" situation for those who use it and the ESC, agency Chairman Harry Payne said in a written statement.

"Currently, if an unemployed person receives a check and does not have a bank account, getting cash probably will involve a check-cashing fee, which we understand can be as much as $25 – sometimes even more," Payne said. "As you can imagine, this puts another burden on the person who is already without a job and trying to make ends meet."

Payne said from the agency's perspective, the new program will save millions of dollars. It costs about $1.80 for the ESC to issue a paper check, he said.

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