In 2003, music mogul Russell Simmons founded UniRush, LLC, offering one of the first prepaid Visa products on the market. Positioning Rush Card, as a way for people with bad credit to establish credit, Rush Card grew to serve some 48 million Americans. Now, the company is finding itself in hot water with the Florida Attorney General’s Office. The Florida AG has named UniRush Financial Services as one of five financial firms selected for investigation into criminal activity. UniRush has been subpoenaed along with First Data Corporation, Green Dot Corporation, Account Now, Inc., and Netspend Corporation for making fraudulent claims and charging hidden fees.
“RushCard has acknowledged that the Florida Attorney General has issued subpoenas to prepaid card companies, including RushCard,” states Simmons, who says he will not comment on it directly. He adds, “I completely welcome any debate and discussion about the best companies in the prepaid debit card industry, which my RushCard company helped found. The RushCard is extremely transparent in terms of the presentation of its fees and its services. All of the information is available for everyone to see on rushcard.com.”
RushCard prides itself on aiding those with bad credit by offering, in addition to the prepaid Visa, check-writing capabilities to prepaid debit cardholders as well as online money tools allowing cardholders to track balance trends, categorize and analyze personal spending, and create and monitor monthly budgets. Its members claim RushCard can build a positive credit file and manage their monthly finances. This claim, according to the Florida AG, is also under dispute. The AG says the company is misleading consumers by claiming to help improve users’ credit ratings. The agency concludes that this kind of misrepresentation is criminal.
Simmons is adamant that his company assists people with low credit scores to reestablish good credit. “RushCard is the solution for people who want affordable financial services that they can customize to suit their needs. As I look at the payment landscape, I see the banks as the large record chains and my RushCard is looking a lot more like iTunes. I welcome the public debate because the more educated the consumers are the more successful we become,” says Simmons. “As a leader in this industry, I encourage a full understanding of RushCard’s transparent pricing and valuable services, especially for those who have been turned away or let down by traditional banks. Third party research has shown that for many customers, the best prepaid card services offer significant savings compared to what they would pay in traditional bank checking accounts with savings of up to 50%, as documented by third party research by JP Morgan and Company,” he says. As far as the fees (which range from monthly membership fees on some of the RushCard products to ATM transaction fees), UniRush says their card owners pay less than half of the fees that most banking institutions charge.