As if filing taxes isn't already a pain, some consumers are facing another giant hassle: They can't access their tax refund.
Customers who filed their taxes using TurboTax software are flocking to the Internet complaining that refunds issued on the company's prepaid debit cards are inaccessible.
"I used my TurboTax card once. It is closed now and I can't get my money," wrote Jennifer, from St. Cloud, Fla., on Consumeraffairs.com. "There are no explanations."
Dameda Hopson of San Jose, Calif., had a similar experience. "I was able to use [my TurboTax debit card] right away. Everything was perfect, the balance was there, the card worked fine, everything was perfect and just one day botta boom, it was closed," Hopson said in an interview with ABC7 News, adding that she "went into a panic because I knew I still had lots of money [on the card]."
Many complaints tell the same story. Taxpayers elected to receive their tax refund on a prepaid debit card as opposed to receiving a check or a direct deposit into a bank account. From there, one of three things happened. Either the card never arrived, it arrived but was immediately unusable, or it became unusable within days of activation. In all instances, the hold up appears due to a security block imposed on individual customer cards by TurboTax.
"As a result of a significant rise in fraud across the industry, Intuit has put in place more stringent processes to ensure that only legitimate cardholders receive the refunds to which they are entitled on a TurboTax Refund Card," explained Intuit spokeswoman Colleen Gatlin in an email to The Huffington Post.
"For the protection of our customers, when we detect suspicious activity that could indicate fraud, we place a hold on the card so no transactions can be made," she explained.
According to Gatlin, Intuit is providing these customers with "very specific" instructions to provide the necessary documentation to remove the block. However, customers maintain that the security block remains in place even after providing the required paperwork.
"I have not received my card because it is under security review," complained "Coley," on Customerservicescoreboard.com. "I have faxed copies of things they needed three times and I am still waiting. I call everyday and all they tell me is to call back." Coley filed on Jan. 26, received confirmation that the refund was deposited onto the card on Feb. 3, and was still waiting to receive the card as of March 6.
Ironically, the cards were designed to facilitate a faster payment for customers who did not have a bank account and didn't want to wait weeks to receive a check. "Typically, with the cards, it takes about 7 - 14 days right now to receive your refund, which is about the same as getting it through direct deposit," Gatlin said. The card, which is issued after the IRS accepts and approves the refund, is free for the first month, after which the consumer is charged $5.99 per month. That fee is waived as long as the customer maintains a $50 balance, according to Gatlin.
"We understand that some legitimate customers are being caught up in this process and will continue to work with them to resolve issues," Gatlin wrote.
In the mean time, customers are waiting to access refunds that, in some instances, are worth thousands of dollars.
"I chose to receive my refund of over $6,000 to a TurboTax card so that I would have a card to pay for my wedding expenses since I do not have credit cards," explained Wendy of Chula Vista, Calif. Seven weeks after filing, she was still waiting to receive the card due to a security block.