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How Banks Take Millions of Dollars from Welfare Recipients

bank atm card
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Big banks are making millions of dollars in welfare-related ATM fees that could easily be waved. 

Dominique Hudson is fed up with giving Wells Fargo her bus money. Each month, the 18-year-old from Oakland, Calif., pays the bank about $12 in ATM fees to access cash from CalWORKS, California’s principle welfare program. The mother of a 3-year-old boy who relies on the public bus to get to her minimum wage job at a grocery store, Hudson could use that money for about five commutes. Instead, she's losing it to the bank. "That's not good at all," she told The Huffington Post.

California welfare recipients paid $19 million in ATM fees last year to withdraw their benefits in cash, according to a new study from the California Reinvestment Coalition, a low-income advocacy network. These millions didn't have to go to the banks.

Critics say big financial institutions could easily afford to waive transaction fees for welfare withdrawal. They also blame welfare administrators for not doing a better job spreading the word about no-fee ATMs that are available to beneficiaries.

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