On February 1, the CFPB entered into a consent order with Mastercard and UniRush for what the CFPB termed “preventable” breakdowns that left consumers unable to access their own money.

UniRush, LLC, which is headquartered near Cincinnati, Ohio, is the program manager for RushCard. RushCard is a reloadable prepaid debit card co-founded by Russell Simmons. RushCard promotes itself as a way for consumers to get direct deposits on their card “up to two days sooner.” Deposits include government benefits and payroll. In 2014, RushCard selected Mastercard, a global financial services company, as its payment processor.

The companies spent 13 months jointly preparing to transition from RushCard’s prior payment processing platform to Mastercard Payment Transaction Services. The conversion took place between October 10 and 12, 2015. According to the CFPB’s press release, the companies were ill-prepared for the transfer and as a result, tens of thousands of consumers were harmed. According to the Bureau’s blog, the CFPB received more than 800 consumer complaints related to RushCard’s prepaid card services in the weeks following the payment processing platform conversion.

The CFPB’s press release alleges that the following harms occurred as a result of Mastercard and UniRush’s “preventable failures”:

  • Approximately 13,180 consumers could not access funds stored on their cards from October 12-15. The Bureau’s press release states that in some instances access was denied for weeks.
  • UniRush improperly suspended 1,100 consumer accounts due to possible “fraud.”
  • Over 45,000 consumers experienced delayed direct deposit processing.
  • UniRush erroneously double-posted over 10,000 ACH deposits to consumers accounts. This led many consumers to believe they had additional funds available in their account when the account balances were actually incorrectly inflated.
  • Approximately 3,899 consumers incurred negative balances after UniRush rescinded the duplicate deposits.
  • For approximately two weeks after the conversion, UniRush did not process cash loads that consumers made at retail locations. This prevented consumers from accessing fund they believed that had loaded onto their RushCards.
  • Mastercard sent inaccurate information about consumers’ account to UniRush when it declined transactions. This resulted in consumers receiving messaging stating that their account balance was $0 when there were actually funds on their RushCard.
  • UniRush was unstaffed and failed to conduct adequate training to meet the increased need for customer service. This resulted in inadequate support and lengthy hold times for consumers affected by service disruptions following the conversion.

According to the consent order, Mastercard and UniRush must:

  • Pay approximately $10 million in restitution to affected consumers.
  • Design a plan to prevent future services disruptions.
  • Pay a civil money penalty of $3 million to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.