Conn. AG: Kardashian Kard is a ripoff

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 29, 2010, 12:32pm


HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal over the weekend -- one of the busiest of the year in terms of shopping -- warned against so-called prepaid debit cards that impose what he calls "outrageous" fees, such as the Kardashian Kard.

In a letter to University National Bank, which issues the Kardashian Kard in an agreement with MasterCard, Blumenthal is demanding specific details about the card terms and fees and how it's promoted and sold in Connecticut.

The card, named for the reality show celebrity sisters Kourtney, Kim and Khloe, is described as a prepaid MasterCard debit card, requiring consumers to pay in advance for card credit, along with significant "activation" and "monthly" fees.

Kim Kardashian said in a recent CBS News interview, "With this one you don't need credit, you don't even need a bank account."

However, Blumenthal said on Friday such prepaid debit cards resemble gift cards under Connecticut law and could be subject to the state gift card law, designed to protect consumers from pernicious and predatory fees that can "unconscionably drain value."

The attorney general said the Kardashian Kard is "particularly troubling" because of its high fees combined with its appeal to financially unsophisticated young adult fans.

"Lose it before you use it -- ought to be this card's motto," Blumenthal said in a statement. "Keeping up with the Kardashians is impossible using these cards -- laden with pernicious and predatory fees that swallow card value.

"These cards are feckless financial tools designed to promptly diminish in value with virtually every transaction -- and even when consumers don't use the card at all.

"This card -- or kard -- appears to specifically target young adults in evoking the name and image of the Kardashian family who showcase lives of luxury and extravagance. Known for their reality show -- 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' -- the family is marketing a dangerous financial fantasy," he said.

Ironically, Blumenthal said, the card will actually distance consumers from the "financial abundance key to the Kardashians' lifestyle."

"The card is filled with gotcha fees and charges, such as $99.95 annual fees, $7.95 monthly fees (after the first year), ATM withdrawal fees, bill pay fees, loading fees -- and even charges for talking to a live operator at their service center, and a card cancellation fee," he said.

At this time, the attorney general said his office is seeking more details from the card's issuer. In a letter to University National Bank, Blumenthal requested the following details:

- The bank's relationship with both MasterCard and the Kardashian family in the marketing, distribution and sale of the Kardashian Kard;

- Where and how the card is promoted to Connecticut consumers;

- Whether the card carries an expiration date and how such date is disclosed to consumers; and

- An explanation of all fees associated with the card, including any inactivity fees.

Blumenthal is in his last weeks as attorney general. He was elected to the U.S. Senate earlier this month.

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