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Viewers reach out with additional complaints involving U.S. Bank ReliaCard system for unemployment

Contact7 helps some people get results
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Posted at 7:32 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 21:32:54-04

Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at contact7@thedenverchannel.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.

DENVER -- Issues with U.S. Bank ReliaCard continue to impact unemployed Coloradans as they wait for the cards to arrive weeks after filing their claims.

The Contact7 inbox was flooded with complaints about ReliaCard after we aired a story last week about problems with the system. Several viewers reached out to say they were also waiting on their cards to arrive. Adding to their frustration, they have been unable to reach anyone in customer service to ask about the status of their cards.

"It’s like I know I’m not the only one that’s on the phone for hours and hours and hours only to have the call disconnected or then just to tell you to try again," said Michael Hering, who works as a massage therapist.

Hering filed for unemployment in March and he is still without a card. He says about $3,000 in unemployment benefits have been loaded onto the card but he is unable to access any of that money.

"No, I never wanted the card to begin with, I wanted direct deposit," said Hering.

Hering and others say the system is confusing and they didn't realize they would receive their benefits on a debit card. Hering thought he selected the direct deposit option so he was baffled when he learned the funds had been loaded onto a ReliaCard.

"I’m amazed that a bank gets to be the middle man between unemployment and the people that need the money that are unemployed," said Jonathan Key Shelton, who is still waiting for his card too.

Since bringing this issue to light, U.S. Bank has responded to some of the concerns Contact7 raised in last week's story. Contact7 interviewed Tara Harper, a retail employee who had yet to receive her ReliaCard. She said after the story aired someone contacted her that evening and her card arrived within two days.

"Thank you again," said Harper.

Denver7 reached out to U.S. Bank again to ask if there was any update regarding the ReliaCard problems. A spokesperson issued the following statement:

Over the past few weeks, we have quickly added new customer service agents to help cardholders, and we have seen a significant reduction in wait times at our call centers. We are continuing to bring new staff on board to help address customer questions as quickly as possible.

Recognizing that the surge in first-time unemployment cardholders accounted for a large portion of the call volume, we modified our new card mailing materials to highlight the self-service options available via the usbankreliacard.com website and our mobile app.

We are consistently producing and mailing benefit cards immediately upon receiving the files from the states, typically within two business days.