Millions of Americans are still waiting for their stimulus payments from the government. But what if you already received it, only to throw it away by accident?
This is unfortunately the case for some unsuspecting people who did not realize their funds would be arriving in the form of a debit card — not by direct deposit or paper check, as was the case for the majority of citizens receiving money from the U.S. government.
According to marketwatch.com, some 4 million Americans are getting government-issued economic impact cards in plain white envelopes, which some people have thrown away by mistake.
Late last month, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service began sending out economic impact payments as prepaid debit cards to those who didn’t have bank information on record with the IRS. So almost 4 million Americans still waiting for their cut of the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act can expect to get their stimulus money in the form of an EIP Card, as opposed to a paper check or direct deposit. The payments, totaling $1,200 for most adults and $500 for children, were a key provision of the CARES Act.
The key message is if you haven’t gotten your money yet, watch your mail very closely.
“Can confirm I got my stimulus debit card (not check) in the mail today and thought it was a scam at first. So keep your eyes focused while checking your mail,” explained Kristina Rex on Twitter.
The initial wave of payments went to households who filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns and received a refund by direct deposit. However, many taxpayers are still owed money. Those who got a paper check received their payment in a white envelope with the Department of the Treasury clearly printed on it, causing fewer doubts about its legitimacy.
To make sure you don’t trash what will eventually be your cash, you’ve got to know what to look for.
The blue Visa debit cards are being issued by MetaBank (the U.S. Treasury’s financial agent) and delivered in plain white envelopes from “Money Network Cardholder Services” — neither of these names are familiar to most Americans.
“Got my economic stimulus check from the government today. It comes in the form of a debit card with some cash on it,” said Twitter-user Lars Doucet. “It also looks exactly like pre-approved credit card junk mail, so don’t throw it out if it says ‘Money Network Cardholder Services.’”
Additionally, the legitimate prepaid debit card contains no official federal insignia and the return address is Omaha, Neb. The prepaid cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. Fees are minimal, but there are a few to consider such as ATM withdraw fees, bank teller fees and reissue fees for lost or stolen cards.
According to the IRS, anyone who receives a payment on one of these cards can do the following without any fees:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, outlining details of the cards in a previous statement, said: “Prepaid debit cards are secure, easy to use, and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly. Recipients can immediately activate and use the cards safely.”
Since the switch to debit cards occurred, confusion has been reported from coast to coast.
Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau have been bombarded with calls from people who believe the envelope may be just another piece of junk mail.
The BBB said they’ve received hundreds of calls from consumers asking if these cards are authentic. The BBB released a statement last week saying not to mistake the mailed prepaid card for a scam.
In a May 27 statement, the IRS said it wanted to remind taxpayers some payments are being sent by prepaid debit card and highlighted that they arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.”
But that didn’t deter some from tossing them straight in the garbage.
“I probably could have thrown this in the trash and you might, too,” said Chad Tiller. “I don’t want people to throw away their money.”
Others have reported difficulty with the funds transfer process of getting the $1,200 from the debit card to their personal bank accounts. An attempt to reach the IRS for comment was unsuccessful.
Will there be a second round of stimulus payouts? And if so, can we expect more debit cards? One WalletHub survey found that 84 percent of Americans want another stimulus check.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives has passed a sweeping $3 trillion bill that would include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks but that bill is currently being held up in the Republican-led Senate.
If you think you may have accidentally thrown away your stimulus debit card, call 1-800-240-8100 or visit www.eipcard.com to obtain a free replacement card.