Prepaid RushCard Near Fix For Thousands Stranded Without Funds

by Martha C. White /
Image: Russell Simmons
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03: Russell Simmons attends 3rd Annual "Change Begins Within" Benefit Celebration at Los Angeles Times Central Court on December 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)Jason Merritt / Getty Images

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After a Columbus Day weekend computer hiccup that spiraled into nearly two weeks of thousands of customers not being able to access their funds, relief is in sight for for holders of Russell Simmons’ prepaid RushCards on Thursday.

“Everything is back to normal at this point,” said Brad Hanson, president of RushCard’s issuing bank, MetaBank.“All procedures, all processes are back to normal.”

“The vast majority of customers have had their problems resolved,” RushCard chief executive Rick Savard said in an emailed statement. He said there were “a handful” of customers who still couldn’t access account information. “Their funds are there but their information is still inaccurate. We are working to contact them individually to assist them with their needs."

Earlier Russell Simmons tweeted that the problems were close to being resolved:

The fixes come a day after the nation's top consumer watchdog weighed in.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a statement that the situation was "outrageous" and that it was "looking into this very troubling issue."

Hanson said “potentially” tens of thousands of customers had been affected, although the bank was still tallying up the total. During the outage, RushCard holders took to social media in droves saying they couldn’t access their funds to pay bills or buy food, gas or medicine.

“They should quickly and completely compensate consumers,” said Lauren Saunders, associate director at the National Consumer Law Center. Saunders suggested the magnitude of the incident could prompt federal regulators to step up their scrutiny and regulation of prepaid cards, which fall outside most consumer banking protections.

“Very soon RushCard will be making a significant announcement on how we plan to make this right,” the company said in its statement. Co-founder Simmons said he was “personally reaching out to hundreds of customers” who had experienced hardship.

For many, the gesture was too little, too late: Numerous Facebook users said they had transferred their money to a bank or credit union account, or another prepaid provider, and had no intention of returning to RushCard.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s associate director of consumer education and engagement Gail Hillebrand suggested people who had been charged late fees because they couldn’t access their money ask for a waiver, and said they can file complaints with the CFPB at consumerfinance.gov.

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