‘Vendors who charge fees on stimulus cards will be investigated’


If anyone feels that they are being charged an additional fee when using their stimulus card, they may notify the CNMI Department of Finance about it so the Office of the Attorney General can investigate it, according to Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig last Friday.

In response to a question during a radio press briefing if the stimulus card fees issue has been resolved, Atalig said there’s been a lot of posts on social media about some of these charges on stimulus cards.

“We ask that every taxpayer, if you have a claim against these fees, or you’re assuming their fees, please email us at stimulus@dof.gov.mp,” he said.

He said claimants must also upload their receipts and that they need their card number so the matter can be investigated.

Atalig said they will also work with the OAG to investigate the vendors that are charging a fee and get to the bottom of it. “We will ensure that we return those charges back to the taxpayer because they should not be charged for normal purchases here in the Commonwealth,” he pointed out.

Atalig said if there is a fee, they will ensure that the taxpayers’ account will be credited for those fees.

The secretary said there are no fees charged to the taxpayer on the stimulus card. There are some fees, however, that are associated with some of the vendors that they go to. “For example, if you rent a car using a debit card, the company will put a $200 or so hold—it depends on each vendor—for security purposes,” Atalig said.

Hotels would do the same as they’ll put a hold on the card until the guest checks out.

“If you go to a restaurant, and you spend $40, they’ll put like a 20% above your bill. So they’ll charge you $44 just to ensure that if you sign off on that bill, that any tip that you had on it is already approved,” the secretary said.

Atalig said there’s no additional fees or so-called tax on purchases just because one is using the stimulus card.

He said the stimulus card should work just the same as if one is using his or her Bank of Guam gift card.

The secretary said they haven’t really had any substantial claims to prove what some of these people are posting on social media.

To ensure that the money is circulated within the CNMI economy and is not used elsewhere, these pre-paid debit stimulus cards are geo-restricted so they can’t be used outside the Commonwealth.

Eligible individuals received $500 per card and $500 for each dependent.

Finance earlier stated that they expect to release $25 million for 28,000 local stimulus checks using the American Rescue Plan Act money.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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