OLYMPIA, Wash., Mar 17, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB)
U.S. Bank and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
(DSHS) are introducing an innovative payment program that allows the state to
disburse child support payments on a plastic card versus a paper check. The
program became available statewide on March 1.
The DSHS Division of Child Support or DCS Card functions like a debit card
though it is not attached to a checking or savings account. The state collects
court ordered payments as it has in the past, but instead of cutting a check and
mailing it to the recipient it electronically loads the payment on to the DCS
Card that the recipient can use to make purchases or withdraw cash. The card
carries the Visa logo and is accepted anywhere Visa is accepted.
The program is among the first of its kind in the United States. It cuts costs
for the state because it no longer has to produce and mail a check or incur
other costs associated with a paper check. The card also brings convenience and
safety to cardholders who no longer have to find the time and place to cash
their checks and pay check cashing fees.
"The DCS Card is one of the newest forms of electronic payment applications
available to consumers," said Sharon Richard, vice president and regional team
leader for the U.S. Bank Government Banking Northwest Team. "The decision by the
Washington State Division of Child Support to employ this program, and the
efficiencies that it creates for recipients, signifies the division's concerns
about the ability of their recipients to get their funds in an effective,
streamlined fashion. It is exciting to work with a state agency that is in tune
with e-commence and forward thinking."
Recipients choose whether they want to receive payments by direct deposit, check
or the DCS Card. DCS currently sends 43 percent of child support disbursements
electronically using direct deposit. "However not everyone has access to a bank
account," said Lynnie Larsen, chief of DCS Central Services for the State of
Washington. "The DCS Card program allows those families who are not able to use
direct deposit to receive their child support payments electronically."
Larsen says clients appreciate the fact that the card can be used as a Visa
card, which allows them to make purchases where ever Visa is accepted, such as
grocery stories, restaurants, the mall or shopping online. Additionally, they
like that the card can be used as a second form of identification. What's more,
cardholders can track child support funds and spending separately from other
funds through monthly statements or through 24-hour customer service via the
Internet or telephone.
"We have always been committed to offering as many alternatives as possible for
clients to pay and/or receive child support obligations," Larsen said. "For many
people the payment or receipt of child support affects a large part of their
lives and we strive to provide services that help alleviate their concerns about
interacting with our division.
Approximately 700 people use the card in Washington, a number that continues to
grow now that the card is available statewide. The program has the potential to
benefit all recipients of the more than 150,000 checks that the state issues
The card is available free of charge, with the exception of when funds are
withdrawn from an ATM, in which case there is a $1.50 fee. If the card is lost
or stolen, it is backed by Visa's zero liability policy, which means the
cardholder is not responsible for unauthorized purchases.
U.S. Bank implemented similar programs in Colorado and Minnesota and is working
with other government agencies to initiate stored value payment cards in more
states and in various capacities.
U.S. Bancorp, with assets in excess of $180 billion, is the 8th largest
financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates
2,142 banking offices and 4,604 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of
banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services
products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is home of the
Five Star Service Guarantee which assures customers of certain key banking
benefits and services or customers will be paid for their inconvenience. U.S.
Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at
CONTACT: U.S. Bank
Teri Charest, 612/303-0732
State of Washington
Adolfo Capestany, 360/664-5445
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SOURCE: U.S. Bancorp