CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Treasury sending stimulus payments via pre-paid debit card, auto dealers called out for predatory lease practices, and Target's pickup, delivery business surges

BySimone Chavoor KGO logo
Thursday, May 21, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Treasury issuing some stimulus payments in the form of pre-paid debit cards

If you haven't already received your "economic impact payment," there's a chance you won't get a paper check, but a pre-paid debit card.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it would begin sending pre-loaded Visa debit cards issued by Metabank instead of paper checks. About 4 million cards will be sent out this week, mostly to taxpayers who are serviced by the Andover, Mass., and Austin, Texas IRS centers. The EIP Card can be used online, at ATMs, or at any retail location where Visa is accepted -- meaning those without bank accounts will now have the ability to check their balance any time, and get more protection against fraud than with a regular check.

"Treasury and the IRS have been working with unprecedented speed to issue Economic Impact Payments to American families. Prepaid debit cards are secure, easy to use, and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly," said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "Recipients can immediately activate and use the cards safely."

California Attorney General calls on auto makers to offer more protections to leased car customers

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is calling on auto dealers to cease predatory leasing practices, and accept returned leased cars in a timely manner.

A press release from the Attorney General's office cited reports of dealerships refusing customers who attempted to return their leased cars at the end of their agreement, or who pressured customers to extend their leases or lease new vehicles. "If these reports are true," said the Attorney General's office, "automakers and dealerships that are engaging in these practices are violating contractual lease obligations and a number of state and federal laws including California's Vehicle Leasing Act, California's Military and Veteran's Code, and the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act."

Attorney General Becerra, along with 12 other attorneys general, wrote a letter to 10 major auto manufacturers urging them to address the issue and put protections in place for customers. The coalition urged carmakers to examine their lease return procedures, provide alternatives for returning leased cars, provide clarity to the customer throughout the return process, and work to assist consumers who have already been harmed by predatory practices.

Target's pickup, delivery business surges

Target is seeing a big boom in pickup and delivery sales.

The retailer announced in its first quarter earnings call that its curbside pickup, in-store pickup and Shipt delivery grew by 278% from March to May as shoppers increased their use of the services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall sales, including online sales, grew 10.8% over the same time period last year. Online sales alone jumped 141% last quarter.

"Throughout the first quarter, our team and guests faced unprecedented challenges arising from the spread of COVID-19. In the face of those challenges, our team showed extraordinary resilience as guests relied on Target as a trusted resource for their families. With our stores at the center of our strategy, and a significant investment in the safety of our team and guests, our operations had the agility and flexibility needed to meet the changing needs of our business," said Brian Cornell, chairman and chief executive officer of Target Corporation.

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