State to Issue Debit Cards to Unemployed

Program is designed to save state money, provide flexibility and savings for jobless.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Unemployed in North Carolina will receive jobless benefits through debit cards, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission said Monday.

The move is designed to help save individuals and the state money.

According to the ESC, many unemployed people do not have banking accounts and have to pay fees to get their checks cashed. The debit cards end that problem. Wachovia is working with the state on the program and will provide access to its branches and ATM machines.

“The debit card program will bring a new level of flexibility and security to customers using the card,” said ESC Commissioner Harry Payne Jr.

The debit cards can also be used wherever MasterCard is accepted.

The ESC began offering direct deposit services to the unemployed, and 33 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits now choose that option.

Issuing checks costs the ESC $1.80 each. The debit cards will save the state $4.2 million in the first year of the program, according to the ESC.

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