Americans Mistake Stimulus Debit Card for a Scam
Eight million Americans will receive stimulus money via a prepaid debit card called the Economic Impact Payment Card. Joshua Bingle of Washington state thought the card was a scam and called the number on the envelope three times before concluding it was real.
“So I called the number and it’s like making you put in your social security number so I hung up the phone,” Bingle said to Scriberr News after the first time he called to activate the card.
“I was like, ‘no freaking way I’m plugging my social security number into this thing.’”
Bingle surfed the web before calling a second time and stumbled upon tons of social media posts about the card. He said he was still wary of the legitimacy because of the name of an unknown bank and the fact that it looked like “junk mail”.
But Bingle is not alone, thousands of people across the country are concerned about the cards, housed in a white envelope stamped with “U.S. Treasury”. Some people have even thrown it in the trash.
“We ran out to the curb because it was trash day,” Floyd Ingraham of Boise, Idaho said. “I stood on my head and fished the Treasury Department envelope out of the waste.”
Linda Carter, a resident of Ferndale, Washington, received the card in the mail and said it did not look like the stimulus check she received the first time.
“I didn’t know what it was and I even had to ask my son, ‘Do you know what this is?’” Carter said to Scriberr News.
“A friend of mine, she’s 80 years old, bless her heart, she thought it was a scam and threw it in her fireplace,” she said.
Another source who reached out to Scriberr News requested anonymity to protect her work in higher education as a youth sports coach. She said she received the debit card and thought it was odd she didn’t receive the automatic deposit like everyone else she knows.
“I thought it sucked because I could only go to specific ATMs to pull the cash out and most of those were located at a gas station and I didn’t feel comfortable pulling out that much cash at a gas station ATM,” she told Scriberr News.
“My option was to just use the debit card and now the government knows where I spent my money. The stimulus check helped some … I live in SoCal, so, $600 doesn’t do much. I’ve been impacted a lot due to California’s shut down and extreme budget cuts,” she said.
WATCH YOUR MAIL
People who received their first payment under the CARES Act as a direct deposit in 2020 can expect to receive future payments in the same manner. But those who got a check in the mail should keep an eye out for the debit card.
“The Economic Impact Payment Card will be sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal,” the IRS said in a statement. “It has the Visa name on the front of the Card and the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back of the card.”
The Department of Treasury chose MetaBank as its “financial agent” and hopes to speed up the distribution process. This is the name Bingle saw on the face of the envelope and can give the impression of junk mail.
CLAIMING YOUR MONEY
The IRS sent out stimulus money through Jan. 15. If you did not receive stimulus money, but should have, you can notify the IRS online or via your 2020 tax return.
“[You] can try contacting them through the IRS website, there’s an option to go find out the status of your stimulus,” said Certified Public Accountant Julie Harkness to Scriberr News. “Alternatively when you file your 2020 tax return there will be an option to claim that stimulus money if you qualify.”
The “Get My Payment” button on the IRS website allows Americans to track their money and the form of payment.
USING THE CARD
The card must be activated before use by calling the number listed on the accompanied letter. You need to know your card number, the last six digits of your social security number and the three-digit security code from the back of your card.
The card works similarly to a standard Visa debit card and can be used to make purchases at stores and restaurants. Cardholders can also get cash from an AllPoint ATM or transfer money to a personal bank account.
LOST OR DESTROYED?
If your card was lost or destroyed you can call MetaBank, their number is provided on EIPcard.com. The card will be immediately canceled and a new one will be issued to the recipient at no cost.