Customer service will be conducted from Utah.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Single mothers in the Mahoning Valley will no longer have to wonder if their child support check is in the mail.
Next month, the Ohio Office of Child Support is rolling out a marketing campaign in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties to persuade single parents to begin collecting child support payments using an electronic debit card, rather than by check.
About $3 million in child support payments have been distributed using the cards since they were first introduced in six counties in July, said Dawna Quinn with the OCS.
"I think it will be a good thing," said Christina Campbell, director of the Trumbull County Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Clients continue to have the option to continue to receive child support payments by check or direct deposit, she said. Direct deposit is not accessible to parents who don't have bank accounts.
A parent will be able to access money in an e-QuickPay account several ways. She can use the card as a debit card at any place that accepts MasterCard and get cash back from the transaction, withdraw cash from with a bank teller or from an automated bank teller machine. Fees are assessed for using an ATM machine, but not for dealing with a bank teller.
The cards, which resemble credit cards and carry the "MasterCard" logo, will be a boon to customers who don't have bank accounts, Quinn said. Although there can be fees associated with the e-QuickPay system, as it is called, they are less than fees at a check cashing place, she said.
The cards don't allow people to spend more than has been deposited in their accounts, Quinn said. Money left in the account will not accumulate interest.
As well, the cards will give parents faster access to child support payments. Payments will be posted on a custodial parent's e-QuickPay account within a day of receipt by the office of child support. It can take more than two days for a direct deposit payment to work through the bank system.
Mailed checks may be phased out within a few years because of expense and unreliability, Quinn said.
E-QuickPay card accounts will be handled from a call center in Sandy, Utah, by customer service representatives who don't have full access to case files or payment details.