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Oregon, US Bank Agree To Nix ATM Fees For Benefits

SALEM, Ore. - Consumer advocates are declaring victory after the state of Oregon Tuesday announced a new contract with US Bank. The agreement eliminates fees for accessing unemployment and child support benefits via an ATM.

Under the current contract, people who get their benefits through the US Bank's ReliaCard get two free ATM withdrawals a month. After that, the bank charges a $1.50 fee per ATM transaction.

Critics say that hurts low-income people. The contract expires at the end of this year, and Oregon state Treasurer Ted Wheeler said he'd negotiate to have that fee removed.

Now, the state and US Bank have agreed on a new contract that allows unlimited free ATM and over-the-counter cash withdrawals.

Consumer advocates like Saadia McConville of Economic Fairness Oregon called the new terms a victory.

"This is an excellent example of how the voice of the people can bring about real change," McConville says. "And I think that's what happened here. US Bank was forced to respond to the public outcry over the ReliaCard."

The reloadable debit card allows people without a bank account to receive their benefits faster than a traditional check in the mail.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

On the Web:

Treasury press release:

http://www.ost.state.or.us/News/Releases/2011/111129%20Oregon%20taxpayers%20and%20card%20users%20will%20save%20under%20new%20electronic%20banking%20terms.pdf

Oregon unemployment benefits via ReliaCard:

http://www.oregon.gov/EMPLOY/UI/ui_payment_options.shtml

Oregon child support payments via ReliaCard:

http://www.oregonchildsupport.gov/resources/reliacard.shtml

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.