Economic impact payments (EIPs), better known as stimulus checks, began going out to qualifying individuals and families months ago to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic, but some people still haven't gotten theirs yet. The government was supposed to send paper checks to those it didn't have bank account information for, but some of these individuals received prepaid debit cards instead. And that's where the trouble starts.
These debit cards don't bear any outward sign that they come from the federal government, and the envelopes they arrive in are plain, presumably to deter thieves from identifying and stealing them as easily. But if you're not reading your mail carefully, it's all too easy to assume it's just another piece of junk mail and throw it away.
If you do this, you will probably have to wait a little longer to get your stimulus money, but you can still get it. Here's what you need to know about how to recognize your stimulus check if it comes as a debit card and what to do if you're afraid you may have accidentally thrown yours away.
How to recognize your stimulus debit card
Stimulus debit cards are issued by the Treasury's financial agent, MetaBank, and managed by Money Network Financial. They come in plain envelopes from Money Network Cardholder Services. Your card should contain your name and the Visa logo on the front and MetaBank listed on the back. There should also be a piece of paper included with the card explaining that this contains your stimulus payment.
Before you begin using the card, you should read through its cardholder agreement and its fee schedule, both of which you can find at EIPCard.com. You will also need to contact customer service, set up a four-digit PIN, and activate your card. You'll find instructions on how to do this on the debit card itself and on the EIP Card website. Don't forget to sign the back of your card as well.
Once all this is done, you can use your prepaid stimulus debit card just as you would a normal debit card. You can shop online, swipe it at any store, or transfer the funds to your bank account. You can also withdraw cash, though you'll pay a fee if you use an out-of-network ATM. Visit the website above to locate the nearest in-network ATM to you if you don't want to pay fees to access your funds.
What to do if you accidentally threw your stimulus card away
If you've thrown your stimulus check away accidentally, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Contact customer service (1-800-240-8100) as soon as you realize and select the Lost or Stolen Card option from the menu. A customer service representative will deactivate your card to prevent anyone who stumbles across it from using your funds, and then they'll issue you a replacement card, which will come in the mail just like the first one.
There's no fee for your first replacement debit card, but if for some reason you lose the second one, you'll pay a $7.50 replacement fee per additional reissued card.
If you know you qualify for a stimulus check but you haven't received yours yet, this could be one reason why. Use the IRS's Get My Payment tool to see if the government has already sent your stimulus check to you, and if so, whether it was direct deposited or arrived as a check or a debit card. If yours came as a debit card but you don't recall receiving it, follow the steps above immediately to get your money as quickly as possible.
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