Archive for Friday, February 3, 2012

Lawrence teenager’s job comes with unexpected complications

Ellen Dalager, 15, is supposed to be compensated via a form of prepaid debit card for her work in a job program at Free State High School, but she has run into unanticipated obstacles.

Ellen Dalager, 15, is supposed to be compensated via a form of prepaid debit card for her work in a job program at Free State High School, but she has run into unanticipated obstacles.

February 3, 2012


When 15-year-old Ellen Dalagar landed a job washing towels through Free State High School, she had to prove she wasn’t laundering money.

But because of the Patriot Act, Dalager’s mother, Camille Dalager, said that’s exactly what the family has been doing the past week.

Ellen is a sophomore at Free State High School who has some mental and communication challenges related to health issues. This year, Dalager said her daughter was excited to start a work program through the school. Ellen said she was eager to use her earnings to purchase a phone.

Ellen received her first paycheck in the form of a prepaid debit card through US Bank. Her parents first encountered problems when attempting to get a temporary PIN code to access the account. It was on that first phone call to US Bank that they were told Ellen had been randomly selected to provide documents to prove her identity as part of the Patriot Act.

While Ellen could provide her birth certificate and Social Security card, Dalager said, she didn’t have a driver’s license or proof of address, which usually comes in bank statements and utility bills. The best the family could do was a school ID, which the bank couldn’t accept. And the bank also couldn’t accept her parent’s ID or proof of address.

The only solution, Dalager’s mother said, was to get a state-issued photo ID. That costs $22, which was hard to come by on the family’s budget. They took out a small temporary loan with the bank to cover it. They hope a state ID will help access the account.

“You did the work, you get paid,” Dalagar said. “All we want is (for Ellen) to be paid.”

Dean DeBuck, a spokesman from the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, which oversees banking provisions in the Patriot Act, didn’t answer direct questions on how the legislation applies to minors. However, he did refer to a 400-page Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering handbook.

According to that document, banks have to obtain a customer’s name, date of birth, address and an identification number, such as Social Security card, before they open a bank account. The handbook goes on to state a bank must verify enough of the information to “form a reasonable belief that it knows the true identity of the customer.”

Prepaid debit cards are a risk because they don’t leave a paper trail. According to the federal report, drug dealers have been known to load currency onto a prepaid card and send the card overseas to their drug suppliers.

Dalager is still trying to figure out why her daughter, a good, hard-working kid, was selected. She doesn’t fit the profile of a terrorist or drug dealer, her mom said.

“I’m just amazed that of all the 100,000 people they pick out that she was one of them,” Dalager said. “She is the most innocent person to get picked. Especially since you know there won’t be a whole lot on that debit card.”


nobodysbusiness 2 years, 2 months ago

While I agree that Ellen should be paid for her hard earned work, I'm extremely put off by the indication that the $22 is a hardship to the family. I know Kris and Camille and know that they work hard to provide their family with a nice home. This story is written as extreme grand-standing in order to gain sympathy for their family and try to make this newsworthy. The family needs neither need your money, or your sympathy. Once they get Ellen a state issued identification, she should easily be able to prove her legal legitimacy.


demonfury 2 years, 2 months ago

This is actually a good thing for Ellen, she gets to experience the corruption, profiling, and profiteering that banks are designed to do. She will learn early on not to trust any of them. The American banking system is so bad that I haven't used a bank in over a dozen years. All of my financial transactions go through a brokerage house that charges me less than any bank would, and I don't have to worry about any of that BS that banks dish out for their own good, not the good of the customer. If I have any issues, I deal with 1 person and 1 person only, and he treats me like royalty. Banks have failed to understand that the value of a single transaction is worthless without the confidence and commitment of repeat customers that spread good word of mouth testimonials. Banks believe that they are above all that and that we are here for them. They believe that we the people have no other recourse but to use them. WRONG !!! Society has been programmed for hundreds of years that banks are the only way to go to secure your money. Not even close to being accurate. If everyone just researched their local financial brokerage houses, moved their business to them, banks would go out of business. The financial industry would truly prosper if we all just woke up and got smart.


appleaday 2 years, 2 months ago

Now I'm starting to understand Newt Gingrich's plan to have school children work as janitors. The state saves money because they can't use the credit cards they are issued. Brilliant!


BABBOY 2 years, 2 months ago

Show me your papers!!

Isn't that what they used to say in a negative way about the Soviet Union.

Well, the Patriot Act has some expanding components of a totalitarian state doesn't it?

Never trust something that has a redundant name. I mean if you have to call it the Patriot Act to cover some rights violations -- something is clearly wrong with it.

(same thing for these posters that call themselves Liberty this or American that -- I always wonder why they are so insecure in themselves they have to tell you they are a good American -- why not just be a good American and let your actions speak for yourself)


StirrrThePot 2 years, 2 months ago

Thank you Patriot Act for keeping us safe while at the same time making the lives of many difficult. "It's for our own good!!"

A debit card, what a crappy way to pay an employee.


Ceallach 2 years, 2 months ago

The sad part of this is that Ellen, a 15 year old girl, is caught up in it. She is fortunate to have her mother as an advocate. Ellen is a very sweet girl--and a great softball player :) I hope someone will offer the family free legal representation to settle this with as little stress to Ellen as possible.

Good luck, Camille!


thebigspoon 2 years, 2 months ago

OK, totally off the present subject, but this is a prime example of how some voters can be denied voting privileges. It cost his kid's family $22 just to get a state ID. How many poor people, the voting bloc that needs so desperately to be heard through its votes, will be denied a ballot that counts simply because they can not afford an ID or evern get to the place where they can get the ID f they can afford it? As I said, a prime example of the way Brownback and his henchmen are putting roadblocks in front of Kansans who want to have their voices heard. Great job, Sam, and here's to your pending NON-reelection. This student will obviously find a way to better her life, but it will be no thanks to big business or to the State of Brownbackistan.


iron_outlaw 2 years, 2 months ago

She should go open a checking account with another bank. Most banks offer a teen account and I'm sure her employer offers direct deposit. That makes sure no more of her gets tied up with US bank. She can still work I have getting her money off that card.

It is becoming more common for employers to pay by using debit cards and other paperless solutions. The employer is still required to provide detail of pay and deductions. I find it laughable that some of you actually see it as a way that an employer might rip you off. Also, to put it nicely, with the amount of environmentally conscious people we have in Lawrence, I would think a tree saving alternative such as prepaid debit cards would be completely embraced.


Take_a_letter_Maria 2 years, 2 months ago

Accelapay cards, which is what she received, are just like the cards the state issues for unemployment compensation. The cards cannot be delivered to the employer, they must be sent directly to the end user's address so George's question is a valid one regarding proof of address.

As for knowing what you were paid and what was deducted, the employer produces a pay stub just as they would if Ellen had a bank account and used direct deposit.

These cards are actually much safer for both the employer and employee as well as more cost efficient for the employer.

I wish the Dalagers would have thought to ask some friends for the $22. I've had a couple of their kids in scouts in the past and would have gladly given them the money for the ID. It is probably a good idea for Ellen to have the ID anyway regardless of the reason for having to obtain it originally.


theriddler 2 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


George_Braziller 2 years, 2 months ago

The story doesn't explain how she came to possess the card. Did her employer just hand it to her? Did she pick it up at the bank?

I wonder if the bank would have accepted the envelope as proof of address if she had given the card to the employer and had them mail it to her.


Haiku_Cuckoo 2 years, 2 months ago

Even if she had been paid with a check, she would need a state ID to cash the check. It's a shame they couldn't find a friend to loan them the money so they could avoid getting a bank loan for $22.


Norma Jeane Baker 2 years, 2 months ago

It's a travesty that the family had to take out a small loan to get their daughter a State ID. US Bank will make interest on that.

Way to gouge the family, US Bank. I hope you're enjoying the negative publicity. You know full well that you could have approved this and "form(ed) a reasonable belief that (you) know the true identity of the customer.”


madcow 2 years, 2 months ago

YEahhhh... you should blank out those numbers. The first ones are the easiest to guess.


Deb Engstrom 2 years, 2 months ago

My son gets paid by a temp agency with a debit card. It's much more efficient when people don't earn large amounts of money. It's better for the company not to write checks for those small amounts. The problem here is the Patriot Act, not the employer or the employee.


Centerville 2 years, 2 months ago

Does the school district pay everyone with debit cards? What's the deal?


Gandalf 2 years, 2 months ago

The problem is with US Bank. I know several people who have problems with them. Heck they even charge one woman I know to cash her paycheck. Even though it's a US Bank check.


LogicMan 2 years, 2 months ago

LJW: It's unfortunate that you published a pic of a debit or credit card's face. I can read many of the numbers. I suggest you fuzz them immediately.


luv2raft 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree with both GardenMomma and toe. It seems like it'd be really easy for the company to scam its employees this way!


GardenMomma 2 years, 2 months ago

Why isn't she getting paid by paper check? How can you see your deductions on a debit card? I would want to know how much is being withheld.


toe 2 years, 2 months ago

The real problem is the company paying their employees using a debit card. A debit card usually has fees and expires. I wonder why the other side of this so called problem, the employer, was not questioned a little more?


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