The CASH Campaign of Maryland’s “Bank On Maryland” is helping the unbanked and low-to-moderate income residents of the state take advantage of receiving their unemployment benefit payments by direct deposit. For those interested in the program, which works with the Maryland Department of Labor to help recipients receive payments quickly and safely, a deadline of May 24, 2021 exists if individuals want direct deposit.
“What we want to do is get the word out, so that individuals know that there is this huge transition from the use of prepaid cards, which has been the primary way that the Department of Labor has provided unemployment insurance benefits in the past,” said Kylie Delgado, Bank On Maryland Program Manager. “We’re encouraging individuals to be aware that this is coming and then to make a decision to go the direct deposit route. It is faster, and it is safer. And it makes sense. In terms of being able to give people immediate access to their funds’ verses requesting a paper check.”
CASH launched Bank On Maryland to expand access to safe financial products and ensure that more financial institutions in the state offer accounts that meet the Bank On National Account Standards. Those standards provide local programs with a benchmark for safe, affordable account partnerships with mainstream financial institutions. According to Bank On Maryland, at least three million people have opened bank accounts certified as meeting those standards.
Through Bank On Maryland, CASH reduces the number of unbanked and underbanked individuals and families. “Individuals can open an account at a financial institution of their choice, and certainly that option is available,” Delgado said. “But we know like so many things; there are so many financial institution options. Even within those institutions, there are so many different checking account products. So individuals can sometimes feel overwhelmed, and they’re looking for the easiest, safest, fastest way to get this process started.
“And one of the ways they can do that is by visiting an institution that has a bank-certified account. They can learn about those institutions at Bank On Maryland. We currently have 11 participating institutions throughout the state of Maryland. “What these accounts have in common is that they have monthly maintenance fees of zero to five dollars. They do not permit overdrafts, so you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay for overdraft fees or deal with that type of situation.
“And these accounts will have a Visa or MasterCard logo, and you can use these cards to pay your bills by phone, to pay your bills online, to make purchases at your different retail establishments both online and in person. “So they are really safe, affordable, and they are FDIC insured, and you are insured.”
Delgado and others at CASH and Bank On Maryland have noted that it hasn’t always been easy for some people—particularly low-to-moderate income individuals and families— to obtain a bank account. Too many Marylanders give up their hard-earned money because they don’t trust, don’t have access to, or are overwhelmed by traditional banking options.
“The use of check-cashing services, payday lenders, and other services can amount to thousands of dollars lost by the people who can least afford it,” Delgado added. “Especially in these pandemic times, it’s more important than ever to receive unemployment payments in a safe and timely fashion.”
The deadline is fast-approaching to sign up for the program to gain direct deposit of unemployment payments.
To learn more, visit www.bankonmaryland.org, email [email protected], or call 443-264-4125. A video that briefly explains how Bank On Maryland works is available at https://bankonmaryland.org/accounts/