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Justin Bieber gives name to high-fee pre-paid debit card: “He should be ashamed of himself.”

Post by C.R. Roberts / The News Tribune on Jan. 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
January 3, 2013 3:48 pm

Justin Bieber should be ashamed of himself, and that’s the word from an actual government official, not just some random journalist who has written about the importance of financial literacy.

As he heads for the inevitable obscurity that befalls adolescent idols, former teen heartthrob Bieber is taking the plunge into hinky financial dealings.

Here comes the Justin Bieber pre-paid debit card.

As with all money matters, consumers should watch their step – especially if they are entering the nearly unregulated world of pre-paid cards.

Bieber’s card – a product of a California outfit called BillMyParents – carries some astounding fees.

According to the financial card monitor, those fees include: a $3.95 monthly fee; loading charges of $2.95 from a debit or credit card and 75 cents from a checking or savings account; a replacement fee of $7.95; ATM charges of 50 cents per balance inquiry and $1.50 per withdrawal; a $3 inactivity charge after 90 days.

A spokesman said in a release today that Bieber will likely “use his social media army, reportedly comprised of 30 million Twitter followers and 48 million Facebook fans” to help promote the card.

BillMyParents has secured a trademarked slogan, calling itself “The Responsible Teen Spending Company.”

Well, with those fees, “responsible” is a relative term.

For example, the Walmart-American Express “Bluebird” card carries no monthly or annual fee; no charge for deposits from a checking or savings account and $2 from a debit card; no fees for ATM withdrawals through an associated network.

And that’s Walmart, for crying out loud.

There are regulations that govern pre-paid access cards, especially as concern the disclosure of fees. The fees themselves are not regulated – except perhaps by market forces. Various “stored value” cards are regulated under the Uniform Money Services Act.

Deb Bortner, director of consumer services at the state Department of Financial Services, advises that potential customers of any card “should be well acquainted with the costs involved.”

Some cards, she said Thursday, are less expensive than others. Some cards, like Bieber’s, charge more.

And Bortner noted of Mr. Bieber, with his millions of followers and his mission to be rich: “He should be ashamed of himself.”

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