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Hundreds Line Up For One ATM Not Knowing Hundreds More Available

NYS Unemployment Debit Card Users Not Reading The Fine Print

Keith Griffin

May 31, 2020

KeyBank ATM user | Key.com photo

New York State unemployment recipients are spending hours in line to use the lone KeyBank ATM in New York City to withdraw their benefits. Apparently, they’re not aware of at least 100 other locations in Manhattan alone that would allow them to obtain funds without fees.

The New York Post reports, “A conveyor belt of cash-strapped New Yorkers — most of them unemployed and some from as far as Queens — queue up every day at an ATM on East 22nd Street. They wait more than two hours on a block-long line, where there is little social distancing and plenty of frustration.

“The weary individuals risk catching the coronavirus, in part, because the state issued them — and thousands of other city residents — debit cards for unemployment benefits through KeyBank, which has only a single branch and ATM in the entire city. The branch in Flatiron is closed due to COVID-19, but one ATM is open.”

Some of those in the queue admit they didn’t read the fine print that came with the debit cards. The bank has surcharge-free access to cardholders at any Allpoint ATM locations, of which there are more than 100 in Manhattan, a spokeswoman said.

Furloughed FedEx worker Siouxche Sharpe, 33, said she noticed a reference to Allpoint on the state Labor Department and KeyBank websites and paperwork that came with her card but “it seemed like another hassle.” She said after all the aggravation people experienced getting the cards, “no one is going through the labor” of examining “the fine print.”

KeyBank is a Cleveland-based institution with $156 billion in assets and branches in 15 states, but only one in New York City.

“There are more than 1,000 ATMs in New York City that KeyBank debit cardholders can use for free, including over 100 in each borough, and it is entirely unacceptable that the bank failed to communicate those options to unemployed New Yorkers,” said state Department of Labor spokeswoman Deanna Cohen.

“Every business has a responsibility to provide services in a way that ensures public health during this pandemic and the bank must implement immediate corrective measures.” In addition, Governor Cuomo waived ATM fees from state-regulated banks through at least June 6, she said.

Also, Allpoint ATMs have a lower single transaction limit, but an individual can make back-to-back transactions until they reach the $1,500 daily limit, she said.

An FAQ is available for all recipients that details the use of the debit cards in New York state. It does mention First Niagara Bank as an alternative, as well as AllPoint.

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