In this post, I will explain how to use the three most common cash loading systems. Additionally, I will discuss how the new products have been redesigned to combat fraud.
More people use a MoneyPak as their means to load cash to prepaid debit cards than they do to any other service. Green Dot, the owner of the MoneyPak service, has managed to claim some of the best retail shelf space in the country. Green Dot sells MoneyPaks at more than 50,000 retailers, including CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. Even though a MoneyPak costs more than its primary competitor, it garners more business because of its presence in the right places.
Using a MoneyPak is straightforward. First, go to a participating store and select a MoneyPak from a j-hook rack. A MoneyPak is a rectangular piece of cardboard housed inside a sealed transparent plastic envelope. You take the MoneyPak to the register and present it to the cashier.
Pricing: Recently, Green Dot raised the price of a MoneyPak from $4.95 to $5.95. Each MoneyPak can load as little as twenty dollars or as much as $500. If you want to add more than that, you must buy additional MoneyPaks. When you buy one, the cashier will ask you to pay for the cost of the MoneyPak on top of the amount of the load. Thus, if you want to load $400 to your account, you will have to give the cashier $405.95, plus any applicable tax associated with the cost of the MoneyPak itself. If you want to load $600, then you will have to buy two MoneyPaks. You will have to bring $611.80 to the register.
At the time of the purchase, the cashier will give you a receipt, and you will get a MoneyPak with a unique number. At one point in time, a MoneyPak came with a PIN, but Green Dot ended that method due to concerns about fraud.
The MoneyPak load is complemented by a MoneyPak account. Each MoneyPak account is associated with a unique person. To create a MoneyPak account, you must provide your Social Security number and your date of birth. The login requires a username and a password. MoneyPak will verify your identity by sending a confirmation text message to your mobile phone. You cannot have more than one MoneyPak per SSN.
MoneyPak customer service works online and also by phone at (866) 795-7969. You will need to provide MoneyPak with personally-identifiable information, including your card number or your Social Security number.
If you ask MoneyPak to deposit your funds to a prepaid debit card, then the money becomes available immediately. If you designate the dollars to go to a standard bank account, there may be a slightly longer delay before you can spend the money.
Funds loaded to a MoneyPak- or any intermediary loading service like it - are not FDIC-insured during the time between payment at the register and their deposit to an account. Once you complete the online step, the loading agent places your funds into your bank account or prepaid debit card account. At that moment, but not before then, the funds become insured.
• You cannot purchase a MoneyPak with a debit card, a prepaid debit card, or a credit card. You can only use cash to buy a MoneyPak. The rules differ at the end of the transfer, as you can use MoneyPak to load funds to a prepaid debit card or a debit card. You cannot load funds to a credit card.
• You cannot load funds to a prepaid debit card that has not previously been registered and activated. Your card will have to be embossed with your name. The unregistered prepaid debit cards located nearby in the store will not work because they do not have your name on them.
• You will have to activate the card, as well. If the prepaid card program is not registered to work with MoneyPak, then the loading process will not work.
• You cannot load more than $1,000 to each prepaid or bank debit card during a rolling 30 day period. Even if you have more than three card accounts inside your MoneyPak account, you cannot distribute more than $3,000 over 30 days. Green Dot wants to make sure that the MoneyPak account is designed to serve the needs of sincere consumers – not fraudsters.
• You cannot load the funds from a single MoneyPak load to more than one prepaid or debit card account.
• You have thirty days to use your MoneyPak. https://www.moneypak.com/help
Green Dot says it processed 42.25 million loads (“cash transfers”) in 2018. Cash transfers include MoneyPak transfers as well as Reload at the Register transfers.
Axos Essentials account holders can use a MoneyPak or Reload at the Register (see below) to load funds to their accounts. People with a Varo account can use MoneyPak.
You have to set up a Reloadit Safe account to add funds to your prepaid debit card. It is not difficult to open a “Safe” – all you need is an email address. For the most part, Reloadit does not take part in customer identification procedures, leaving such work receiving bank instead.
Reloadit’s Safe merely acts as a portal for moving money. When you open a new Safe, Reloadit asks you to supply your prepaid card account numbers. The Safe also lets you track your transaction history.
Each Reloadit has a scratch-off PIN and a unique ten-digit code for each load that you purchase at the point of sale inside a participating retailer. With that code, you can add the funds to your Safe. You can store up to $2,000 in a Reloadit Safe at any time. You can then order a transfer of funds from your Safe balance to one of your registered prepaid debit cards.
Reloadit partners include the NetSpend family of cards (Western Union, AceCash Express, et al) as well as PayPal Prepaid MasterCard, Univision MasterCard Prepaid Card, and Money Network.
Reloadit is a service of the Blackhawk Network. It partners with prepaid debit card companies who have relationships inside the Blackhawk Network of products. Blackhawks sells Reloadit Packs in approximately 10,000 locations in the United States. Some of its better-known retail partners include Safeway, Albertsons, Giant Eagle, Kroger, BiLo, Casey’s, Dave’s, Winn-Dixie, Harvey’s, Food Lion, Supervalu, Meijer, Hannaford, and WaWa. Blackhawk is now a privately-held company (its shares were acquired by BPN for $3.5 billion last year), so it is impossible to unearth public filings that might otherwise give us some detailed information on the scope of Reloadit’s market size. Nonetheless, the company was still public as late as in 2018, so the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) maintains publicly-available records through that point in time. Those records show that Blackhawk had more than $2.2 billion in revenue in 2017. However, Reloadit is but one of their business lines. The company sells gift cards, GPR prepaid debit cards, and certain closed-loop (cards that can only be spent at specific merchants) cards.
Other things to know:
• You cannot purchase a Reloadit Pack with a debit or a credit card.
• You cannot transfer funds from a Safe to a standard bank account. Reloadit only works with prepaid debit cards.
• Reloadit Packs cost $3.95.
• You can load any amount between twenty and five hundred dollars with each Pack.
• You can not load more than $1,000 to your safe in a single day.
If you lose your Pack, even after you have already loaded it to your Safe, you should immediately transfer the funds out of your Safe and into one of your established prepaid debit card accounts.
In the past, consumers could reload their MasterCard prepaid debit cards with rePower. MasterCard still exists, but rePower does not.
Reload at the Register
You can dispense with the j-hook rack and load funds by swiping your card at the checkout register with Green Dot’s “Reload at the Register” ("RATR") service. RATR eliminates the need to buy a card from a j-hook rack. The consumer swipes his or her card at the point-of-sale. The cashier punches in the load amount, a message goes through the card network (VISA, MC, Amex), and Green Dot deposits the funds to the prepaid debit card. You will have to wait ten minutes before you can spend the funds. It’s a more straightforward process, as you do not have to circle back to a website or make a phone to complete the funds transfer. It’s also less costly than buying a MoneyPak.
Facts about Reload at the Register:
• Each RATR costs $4.95.
• RATR is available at Kroger’s, Ace Cash Express, CVS, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Rite Aid, Safeway, 7-Eleven, Speedway, Walgreens, and Walmart. Walmart’s participation as a partner retailer to RATR means that millions of people use the service annually.
• RATR only works with participating prepaid debit cards and debit cards.
• You can add up to $1,000 during a single 24-hour period.
Fraudsters love the cash loading ecosystem.
If a person asks you to put money on a load and provide them with the pack number, you may be at risk of becoming a victim of “customer-assisted fraud.” Be wary when a person asks you to put funds on a reloading product to:
• Pay IRS for unpaid taxes or penalties.
• Make an immediate payment to a utility to avoid a service disruption.
• Pay taxes on lottery winnings
• Make a payment to a law enforcement agency to help a loved one post bail.
You should never transfer funds from a load to an account that is not in your name. Never use a load to pay taxes, fees for foreign lottery winnings, or any deals and opportunities that seem to be too good to be true. They are too good to be true, and in fact, they may turn out to be disastrous.
Blackhawk created the Reloadit Safe specifically to prevent fraud.
In 2014, owing to rampant fraud, Green Dot began to phase out its MoneyPak program. By early 2015, it had suspended the program entirely. It was a courageous choice on the part of Green Dot, as it meant walking away from a substantial amount of business. In 2015, the company noted that overall sales of MoneyPak cash transfers dropped 66 million compared to the previous year.
The company did not shy away from the problem. Indeed, Green Dot Steve Streit made a very forthcoming statement to the Senate Committee on Aging at a hearing on senior phone fraud scams. Streit described how fraudsters used MoneyPak to defraud people:
“The PIN method of reloading a card has also become susceptible to exploitation by scammers who target seniors with confidence scams. Fraudsters convince the victim that they have won a prize or some other similar enticement. At that point, they inform the victim that the only way to collect the prize is to buy a MoneyPak (or a similar competitor’s product) for a specified amount of money and then provide the secret PIN number associated with that MoneyPak to the scammer. This is the equivalent of the senior telling a stranger their debit card account number and providing them their secret PIN, or providing a con artist with their bank account number and their online login secret password. As the Committee knows, the scammer immediately uses that secret PIN to empty the MoneyPak and transfer the associated funds to their own account. At that point, the senior’s money is gone and the scammer is gone. This method of fraud is called "Victim Assisted Fraud" because the scam can only happen when a willing victim purposely gives away their personal information to a stranger.”
Streit told the Senate Committee on Aging that the total sum of funds stolen through victim-assisted fraud might have been as high as $30 million in 2013 alone, a staggering amount for sure. Streit noted that only about 1/4th of one percent of all funds loaded through MoneyPak were fraudulent.
In all my years in public policy, Steve Streit stands out as a person of true integrity. He created the prepaid debit card product and has always been motivated to bring the benefits of electronic banking to individuals that would otherwise be excluded from the system. His decision to pull MoneyPak until Green Dot could solve its risk exemplifies how he has made that commitment central to his company.
Green Dot reintroduced the MoneyPak with a new system that did not have a PIN. The new method created a more effective means of combatting fraud. While anyone can buy a MoneyPak, Green Dot only allows people to move money to accounts that have been vetted by the issuing bank for “Know Your Customer “ CIP.