The Social Security Debit card, otherwise known as the Direct Express debit card has become a frustrating card for many cardholders. In this post, we will go over the top Direct express complaints and reviews.
We have gathered these from different sources, including reviewing complaints made to the reporters, the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, Congressional Investigations into Direct Express and parent company Comerica, and Lawsuits filed against them.
This post about Direct express complaints and reviews will cover:
- What is the Direct Express Debit Card?
- Top 10 Direct Express Complaints & Reviews
- How to File a complaint against Direct Express
- How to talk to a live person at Direct Express
What is the Direct Express Debit Card?
The United States Department of Treasury now requires that federal benefit payments (including Social Security, SSI, SSDI, and VA benefits) must be made electronically.
The Direct Express card is a prepaid card that is offered to those who receive federal benefit payments and don’t have a traditional bank account.
It is recommended by the United States Treasury Department as a safe, fast and convenient alternative to paper checks.
While the Direct Express card my be marketed as a safe and convenient card to use, cardholders tell a different story about their experience with the card.
We have reviewed hundreds of complaints against Direct Express made to the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs.
We have also looked at new reports, like this one, this one, and this one, Congressional Investigations against the parent company Comerica, and pending class-action lawsuits filed against them.
We have used all this information to compile the top 10 complaints against Direct Express from cardholders.
Top 10 Complaints Direct Express Complaints & Reviews
Here are the top 10 complaints about the Direct Express Card:
Complaint #1 – It’s Very Hard to Speak to a Live Person
The biggest complaint about the Direct Express card is how hard it is to speak to a live customer service representative.
When you contact customer service, the hold times to speak with someone can be very long.
Some cardholders have even reported waiting on hold for up to 2 hours and then eventually giving up. In some cases, customers who are on hold for a period of time and then suddenly had their call drop.
Others have tried multiple times to speak to a representative within a given week or month and still had no luck reaching a customer service representative.
Every other problem associated with the Direct Express debit card is made worse by the fact that it is very difficult to speak to a customer service representative.
Complaint #2 – Increasing Incidents of Fraud
The Direct Express debit card is increasingly being targeted by fraudsters. This comes in various forms.
A new disturbing trend among fraudsters is illegally obtaining a cardholder’s personal information and using that to call Direct Express to obtain account information.
In some cases, the fraudster will change the mailing address and other contact information on the cardholder’s account.
The fraudster will then order a new card and have it sent to a new address that they have access to.
The cardholder is mostly unaware of this since the phone number, email and address on the account have been changed.
The new card is then used at an ATM to drain the account. By the time the cardholder becomes aware of this, all the money in their account is gone.
Another common fraudulent activity reported by cardholders is the unauthorized use of their account.
In most cases, the unauthorized transactions occur out of state by a fraudster who has been able to obtain the cardholder’s account information.
They then use this information to make unauthorized purchases online.
They continue to make illegal purchases until all the money on the account has been drained.
The issue of fraud has reached such an alarming state that some cardholders have had to file multiple transaction disputes with Direct Express within the last 12 to 24 months.
Many cardholders have also had their Direct Express card replaced several times due to fraud.
Complaint #3 – Long Dispute Resolution Process
If you find suspicious or unauthorized transactions on your account, Direct Express wants you to call their Customer Service Department immediately to file a complaint.
The problem with this is that getting a representative on the phone to file the complaint is becoming an even bigger challenge.
This means that it could take days after the fraudulent incident occurred for the cardholder to be able to file a report with Direct Express.
During this time, it’s possible that the fraudster is able to commit more fraud since the cardholder has no way of deactivating the card without speaking to a representative.
Once you are able to reach a customer service representative, you will be provided with instructions on the paperwork you need to complete for the dispute process.
This paperwork must be completed and sent via standard mail within 10 days. There is no way to file a dispute online or via fax.
There is also a timeframe within which this dispute report must be filed in order to limit your potential risk of any losses on your account.
The entire dispute investigation process may take up to 90 days.
A lot of customers have complained about the time it takes for Direct Express to complete their investigation and return any money due to the cardholder.
This is especially problematic for cardholders on a fixed income – like Social Security, Disability or Supplemental Security Income.
That’s because their benefit payment is usually their only source of income Resulting in their funds being held for an extended period of time and putting them in a very difficult financial position.
Complaint #4 – Frustrating Lost Card Replacement Process
If your Direct Express card is lost or stolen, you are instructed to immediately call the Direct Express Customer Service Department at 1-888-741-1115.
A customer service representative will assist you in getting a new, replacement card mailed to you.
The replacement card usually arrives within 7 to 10 business days by standard mail. There are several issues with this process.
First, as stated above, it’s very difficult getting a hold of a customer service representative.
Second, even if you are successful in speaking to a representative and your replacement card is mailed, the replacement card does not usually arrive within the 7 to 10-day window.
This causes a lot of frustration for cardholders, as they are unable to access their money for a long period of time or pay bills.
On top of that, trying to check the status of your replacement card or requesting a new card is frustrating in itself because of how much effort it takes to speak to a live person.
Complaint #5 – Card Cancelled without Warning
Another source of irritation for Direct Express cardholders is the growing problem of canceled cards.
Direct Express is canceling cards without notice due to suspected fraudulent activity.
Since Direct Express does not alert customers of this action in a timely manner, cardholders when a cardholder attempts to use their card to make a purchase they find that their card is no longer working.
This then forces the cardholder to use another form of payment to complete the purchase.
If the money on your Direct Express card is your only source of income, then the cardholder finds themself in a very frustrating and embarrassing situation.
Another issue with canceling a card without properly notifying a cardholder occurs when automatic bill payments are declined.
Complaint #6 – Problems using the card Abroad
The Direct Express website states that you can use the card outside the United States wherever Debit MasterCards are accepted.
However, customers have complained about their inability to use the card outside the United States.
This has resulted in some cardholders being stranded or left in impossible situations abroad due to their lack of access to money.
In some cases, even when Direct Express was notified ahead of time about the travel, the card was still flagged and transactions declined.
The only way to try and resolve this while traveling is to call Direct Express customer service from a foreign country, which can be frustrating since it’s very hard to speak to a live person.
Complaint #7 – Frustrating Bill Pay Process
One of the benefits marketed by the U.S Treasury Department for the Direct Express card is the ability to use the debit card to pay your bills online or over the phone.
However, this is always possible to do with the Direct Express card.
You can only use the card to pay bills if the company processing the payment can charge your card as a credit card, which means that they have to use your Direct Express card number, expiration date, and 3-digit code to process the payment.
There is no option to set up online bill pay with your card using your account number and routing number.
Direct Express does not make this information available to cardholders.
Therefore, if the company you are paying cannot process your bill payment using your card information, then you have to find another way to pay that bill.
This causes a huge inconvenience for cardholders – forcing them to mail in their payment or pay their bill directly at a bank or credit union.
Complaint #8 – Inability to add Funds to a Direct Express Account
The Direct Express Debit MasterCard exists solely for receiving federal benefit payments.
This means that the only money available on your card is the amount of your federal benefits deposit.
If you have income from other sources, you cannot add those funds to your Direct Express debit card.
This restriction presents several challenges for a Direct Express cardholder.
First, if a cardholder wants to make a payment and does not have sufficient funds on their Direct Express account, there is no way for them to add more funds to make the payment.
Second, if the cardholder is forced to get a regular account with a bank or credit union in order to deposit their additional income, then holding on to the Direct Express card does not make sense.
That’s because they can just have their federal deposit payments sent to the bank or credit union account.
Complaint #9 – Problems Withdrawing Funds at ATMs
Some cardholders have had issues using their card at Direct Express eligible ATMs.
The most common problem occurs when cardholders encounter an error when trying to take funds out of the ATM.
The ATM error inhibits the cardholder from receiving the money they were attempting to take out, as well as reduces their balance by that amount.
To resolve this issue, cardholders have to file a dispute with the Direct Express Dispute Resolution Department.
This dispute process can take between 45-90 days to complete.
Having to wait up to 90 days to get your money back from an ATM error is not only frustrating but extremely stressful for those Direct Express card customers on a fixed income.
Complaint #10 – Problems with Using Mobile App
Direct Express has a mobile app for cardholders. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.
The app is designed to allow cardholders to perform functions such as check their card balance, review recent transactions, set up low balance alerts, set up deposit alerts, and locate the nearest in-network ATMs.
The most common complaint about the mobile app is that it stops working after a few months of using it.
Cardholders have indicated that they are no longer able to log into the app, even after repeated tries.
Others have also said that they are simply unable to register their card account on the mobile app.
This is extremely frustrating for cardholders who are trying to access their account information.
How to File a complaint against Direct Express
If you have been trying to get your issue with Direct Express resolved and have been unable to, here’s how to file a complaint against Direct Express:
Option 1 – File a complaint with the Department of the Treasury
The Direct Express program is owned by the United States Department of the Treasury. Comerica Bank, which runs the program is a contractor of the Department of the Treasury.
You can file a complaint to the Department of the Treasury about your experience with Direct Express by emailing them at DirectExpress@fiscal.treasury.gov.
Do not leave personal information in that email as the Department of the Treasury cannot help you with card-specific questions.
Option 2 – Write a Complaint Below
Another way to get your voice heard is to write a complaint about your experience with Direct Express on our complaint form below.
This will help draw attention to the issue because other cardholders who see your review and have experienced the same issue will add their own complaint, which will show a pattern and get the attention of a news reporter or journalist.
To write a complaint about your experience with Direct Express, scroll to the bottom of this article.
How to talk to a live person at Direct Express
For tips and tricks on how to call Direct Express and speak to a live person, see our post – How to Talk to a Live Person at Direct Express.
Direct express complaints and reviews Summary
We hope this post on Direct express complaints and reviews was helpful.
If you have further questions about Direct Express Debit Card, Social Security retirement benefits, please let us know in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles on Direct Express, Social Security including Direct Express FAQs,