Posted on Jun 23, 2020

Four million people received their stimulus payments under the CARES Act as payment cards (the rest of the 120 million people who received stimulus payments got checks or direct deposits). These funds, sent out to provide aid to consumers during the current economic difficulties caused by COVID19 closures, were intended to make sure that people don't go hungry or lose their houses.

Paul Bland, executive director of an organization called Public Justice, wrote an excellent piece about a forced arbitration clause included with the prepaid cards.

Here is an excerpt of his article, which appeared on Daily Kos.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), passed by the Congress on March 27, 2020, authorizes the Treasury Department to issue “Economic Impact Payments” to individuals with income below $75,000 in the amounts of $1,200 for an adult and $500 for a child. The purpose of the checks is to help people pay for food, utilities, rent, medicine, and other basic necessities at a time when they have been told to stay home and, as a result, have lost income.  

About 120 million Americans have received stimulus funds. But for reasons that are not clear, four million of those people did not receive checks, but instead received a prepaid card (called the EIP card) from the federal government. The cards were sent out in a plain envelope that didn’t say that it was from the federal government, so quite a few people didn’t realize that this was their stimulus funds.


And, in a real affront to consumer rights, the cards also come with a forced arbitration clause...

Why does that matter?

Well, suppose Money Network charges some fees that aren’t allowed by law to some group of people within those four million who received the cards. (This happens all the time with banks in America; consumers are regularly hit with unauthorized fees and fines of various types.) Under the arbitration clause, the people being cheated can’t go to court. They can’t have a jury of their peers, and they can’t bring a class action. They have to go to a corporate-friendly private arbitration company, where private arbitrators are likely to favor Money Network over the consumers.


There is one good thing here. For those people who received the stimulus cards who read through all the fine print, (or who read this blog post), they can OPT OUT of the forced arbitration clause. It says this:  “If you do not want this Arbitration Clause to apply, you must send us a signed notice within 60 calendar days after you receive the Card. You must send the notice in writing (and not electronically) to our Notice Address. Provide your name, address and Card account number. State that you “opt out” of the Arbitration Clause.”


Please visit the link below to read the full article. The article includes detailed instructions of how to opt out of arbitration. 

As time is of the essence, please OPT OUT as SOON as possible. Please share our firms' article with as many people as you are able, to help spread the word. If people wait too long, their ability to opt out will EXPIRE.

The Consumer Law Group, P.C., the Law Firm of Attorney John Cole Gayle, Jr., specializes in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Debt Settlement, the Virginia Lemon Law, breach of warranty, auto fraud, breach of contract, and other areas of consumer law. If you are looking for help, please call our firm so we can discuss your situation with you. 

John Cole Gayle, Jr.
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Consumer Law Pioneer and Co-Author of Virginia's Lemon Law