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Minnesota Families Can Receive Child Support Payments on U.S. Bank Stored Value Visa Card Instead of Paper Checks

MINNEAPOLIS, Apr 4, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- U.S. Bank and the State of Minnesota 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 in late February and parents will soon start receiving information from the Minnesota Department of Human Services about the stored value card, along with other direct deposit options.

The Minnesota ReliaCard functions like a debit card though it is not attached to a checking or savings account. It offers another electronic option to parents who do not have their child support deposited to a checking or savings account. With the ReliaCard the state continues to collect court ordered payments, but instead of mailing a check to the family, it electronically loads the payment on to the ReliaCard that a parent can use to make purchases or withdraw cash. The card carries the Visa(R) logo and is accepted anywhere Visa is accepted.

The program is among the first of its kind in the United States. It is expected to reduce costs for the state, which will no longer have to produce and mail a check or incur other associated costs. 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 ReliaCard will cut costs for the state and will make receiving child support payments faster and more convenient for families," said Wayland Campbell, director of the Child Support Enforcement Division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The state issues more than 180,000 checks each month, collecting and distributing about $46 million in child support payments.

"The stored value card is a good option for families that do not have a bank account," said Campbell. "Families may want to keep their child support payments separate from other money." Parents can track how they spend the funds through monthly statements or a 24-hour customer service via the Internet or telephone.

Approximately 3,000 people signed up to use the card during a pilot and the number continues to grow now that the card is available statewide. Campbell said the state is pleased with the results so far.

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 Washington and is working with other government agencies to initiate stored value payment cards in more states and in various capacities.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), 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 usbank.com.

CONTACT:          U.S. Bank
                  Teri Charest, 612/303-0732
                  Minnesota Department of Human Services
                  Karen Smigielski, 651/296-1258

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