July 27, 2010
Claimants Have Option of Direct Deposit or Debit Cards
Augusta – The Maine Department of Labor has begun the transition away from paper unemployment checks with the launch of the new Maine Automated Payment (MAP) Card. The MAP Card is a Visa debit card issued by Chase Bank that will replace unemployment checks for all unemployment claimants who have not signed up for direct deposit.
“Debit card and direct deposit are safer and more secure methods for unemployed workers to receive the weekly unemployment benefits for which they are qualified,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. “Claimants will receive funds electronically and will no longer have to cash a check in order to access benefits.”
Fortman noted that the shift away from unemployment checks will result in significant savings to the unemployment program and will cut down on the hundreds of payments that are returned in the mail each week due to claimants changing addresses.
The first MAP Cards were issued at the end of June to workers who had opened a new unemployment claim. Starting next week, active unemployment claimants not signed up for direct deposit will begin receiving benefit payments via the MAP Card.
The MAP Card is free, but fees and surcharges apply to certain transactions. The Maine Department of Labor has sent out numerous mailings in recent months highlighting options for claimants to withdraw all or part of their benefit payments at no cost at ATMs, banks and retail locations. The card will also come with a summary of fees and surcharges.
Unemployment claimants should watch for their card in the mail. The MAP Card cannot be used until it is activated following the instructions that come with the card. For confidentiality and security purposes, the envelope will not identify it as an unemployment card. Anyone who is filing for unemployment benefits and not already receiving payment through direct deposit should verify the contents of envelopes prior to throwing away what might look like junk mail.
Workers who prefer to receive their benefits by direct deposit can switch at any time by calling: 1-800-593-7660 or TTY: 1-888-457-8884. For more information about the MAP Card, visit: www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment/mapcard.