The question now is whether that same outcry will be turned on the rest of the prepaid card industry.
“Will they be subjected to scrutiny? Absolutely, without question,” Levin says. In addition to the fees, he notes numerous other issues with the cards, including the fact that they aren’t insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and typically don’t offer any kind of overdraft protection. That could change if the government takes an interest, though. “The [Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure] Act is a work in progress, and with Elizabeth Warren coming on board and the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] evolving, this is one of the areas they’ll look at,” Levin says.
In the meantime, the industry will continue to rake in cash from consumers desperate for plastic but unwilling or unable to secure a debit or credit card. And while the Kardashian Kard has faced major scrutiny, card issuers are clearly still willing to market prepaid cards to teens. Myplash.com, for instance, offers numerous “Mypla$h Teen Prepaid MasterCards,” including some branded with the stars of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
That’s a trend that doesn’t sit well with Hardekopf.
“Are the Kardashians really the image we want young people to emulate when it comes to managing money?” he says. “I don’t know if the financial services industry needs to be using characters and celebrities to market to young people.”
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