Wal-Mart prepaid card users have taken to social media over the last few days to complain about problems with their MoneyCard accounts.
“NO ACCESS ONLINE OR THROUGH PHONE,” Rob Evol wrote on Credit.com’s Facebook page this Thursday. “WHAT LAWYER DO WE CALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
On Monday, another accountholder alleged on the page that she was unable to access new funds she deposited over the weekend.
“I made a deposit on it last Friday and just now was able to retrieve my money,” Susan Michelle Woodrome wrote. “Never again will I use this card.”
Accountholders have also reported problems accessing accounts, checking balances and using cards on Twitter.
@Walmart have been on the phone since 10:30am with MoneyCard support just trying to get my card unlocked can you guys help?
— Chris Fordham (@urza389) May 18, 2016
Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to Credit.com’s request for comment, but Green Dot, the company that issues the retailer’s MoneyCards, said the problems were rectified Wednesday night and that its system is currently operating normally. It also said the problems over the last few days were generally isolated to balance inquiries.
“While we are still investigating a small number of complaints received Tuesday related to the inability to spend funds, actual customer transactional data indicates that the vast majority of customers were able to use their cards during this period of time, including for ATM cash withdrawals, purchases and the crediting of deposits,” the company said in an email. “While impacted customers may have reached out through other channels, less than 100 customers in total over the aggregate three-day period lodged complaints on Green Dot’s social media channels.”
The balance inquiry problems were related to a system slowdown, following a processor conversion Green Dot and MasterCard PTS (point-of-sale terminal security) conducted last weekend, it said.
“While the conversion of accounts to MasterCard PTS went according to plan, post the conversion of accounts, certain systems at MasterCard PTS began to show latency (slowing) which in turn caused certain customer service inquiries to fail when customers attempted to retrieve their balance information from Green Dot’s websites or automated phone system,” Green Dot wrote. “In particular, some customers were not able to have real-time access to their card balance information for certain periods between Monday morning and Wednesday night when using the company’s websites or automated phone system. Other methods of retrieving balance information continued to operate normally, including the ability to retrieve balance information from the company’s mobile apps.”
Dealing With a Prepaid Problem
The reported Wal-Mart MoneyCard outages marks the second time in the last year that prepaid cards have left accountholders in the lurch. Back in October, RushCard, a popular prepaid debit card founded by celebrity Russell Simmons in 2003, suffered a technical glitch that locked some users out of their accounts. (The company just last week agreed to pay $19 million, plus $1.5 million in lawyer fees, to settle a lawsuit with cardholders over the incident.)
Prepaid debit cards, which let accountholders load money onto a card and use it just as they would a debit card, are typically popular among people who don’t have access to traditional bank accounts or credit cards. They’re also sometimes used by folks who want to keep a tight rein on their (or their child’s) spending or are looking to save money for a special occasion. But, whether you use a prepaid debit card because it’s your preferred financial tool or you don’t have access to a bank account, situations like this illustrate why it pays to have a backup plan.
Prepaid cardholders can potentially minimize problems associated with getting locked out of their account by stopping direct deposit. You can contact your payroll company to have your paycheck mailed or deposited to another account instead. You can also see if you can borrow money from friends or family in the interim. That’s not ideal, for sure, but doing so could at least help you avoid missing a monthly bill or loan payment, which can damage your credit score. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing your two free credit scores each month on Credit.com.)
Finally, if you’re someone who avoids credit or thinks it’s unnecessary, you might want to consider getting a credit card. A secured credit card (often available to people with bad or no credit) or a low-interest credit card could be a good back-up in case of emergencies.
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