Comerica CEO challenges American Banker articles on Direct Categorical

“We moreover protect a larger than 90% satisfaction price amongst cardholders and keep devoted to our partnership with [the Treasury Department’s Bureau of] Fiscal Service,” Comerica CEO Curt Farmer says in response to a present American Banker report {{that a}} Comerica govt had acknowledged the company confronted a “extreme contract violation” for allowing fraud disputes and data on Direct Categorical cardholders to be handled out of a vendor’s office in Lahore, Pakistan.

Shelby Tauber/Bloomberg

To the editor:

I’m writing to watch up regarding the present articles specializing within the Direct Categorical program. Comerica has labored with the Treasury Division and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service to deal with Direct Categorical since 2008. Ms. Berry’s article included excerpts of inside communications about this method with out context, failing to produce a complete picture of how this method is managed and factors are addressed. Mr. Heltman’s article, whereas opinion, had even a lot much less journalistic integrity. Given the importance of this program to the people it serves, and the complexity of the topic, your readers have to understand how this program helps the larger than 4.5 million Individuals who depend upon it.

We’re proud of the work we’ve completed on Direct Categorical since its inception. People relying on federal benefits have a dependable, easy choice to entry their funds whereas receiving the assistance and property of a financial institution that has served prospects properly for 174 years. As a result of the beginning of this method, Comerica has supplied lots of of 1000’s of explicit individual value deposits, processed billions of transactions, and supported prospects on lots of of 1000’s of keep buyer assist cellphone calls. We offer a sturdy set of devices to help Direct Categorical prospects deal with their accounts, along with a cell app and web page. We moreover protect a larger than 90% satisfaction price amongst cardholders and keep devoted to our partnership with the Fiscal Service. 

Direct Categorical serves people in 25 completely totally different federal purposes all through 8 companies who receive their federal benefits, much like social security and veterans’ assist, on a pay as you go debit card. This service has helped many people with out monetary establishment accounts safely receive their benefits and decrease your bills by avoiding the costs of paying for check-cashing corporations and accessing on-line decisions for gadgets and firms. This technique has saved people and the federal authorities lots of of 1000’s of {{dollars}} and launched people who had been underserved into the financial mainstream. It was well-known in one among many Might thirtieth articles that Comerica earnings from this method. Whereas that’s true, larger than 90% of the money spent on Direct Categorical goes to the third-party distributors managing the administration of this method, together with the payments that Comerica incurs in house. Comerica serves as a result of the Treasury’s Fiscal Agent.

The scope of the Direct Categorical program requires coordinating many stakeholders and dealing diligently to ensure that federal guidelines are being adopted. The present article ignores the reality that Comerica took steps to protect Direct Categorical prospects when it grew to grow to be acutely aware {{that a}} third-party vendor had not adopted program protocols for reviewing purchaser inquiries. These steps included requiring the vendor in question to interact an neutral auditor whose outcomes had been shared with the Fiscal Service. These steps had been taken in cooperation with the Fiscal Service in 2020. And, we proceed to hold out widespread assessments, along with neutral audits to verify this method is managed in compliance with related requirements with ongoing oversight from the Fiscal Service and Treasury Division. We make investments property into making this method worthwhile and act quickly if we uncover factors — from addressing explicit individual purchaser points to oversight of distributors. Whereas it’s tempting to present consideration to the challenges that come up in a program of this dimension and complexity, the actual fact is that lots of of 1000’s of Individuals have been able to thrive on account of Direct Categorical, utilizing larger than $400 billion since 2008 for payments like rent, groceries, and month-to-month funds. 

We have the benefit of our work supporting the Direct Categorical program and proceed to produce fantastic buyer assist to the lots of of 1000’s of Individuals who depend upon it to acquire their federal benefits. Your present articles are an unfortunate and inaccurate distortion of our work. We’re steadfastly devoted to serving our prospects by the use of this significant program.

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