The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to make sure you don’t throw out your prepaid $1,200 government stimulus debit card.
Many people have done that, thinking the cards are junk mail and discarding them, according to MarketWatch.
In a press release, the IRS states that the debit cards will arrive in plain envelopes from “Money Network Cardholder Services,” and are issued by Metabank, the Treasury Department’s financial agent — neither of which are commonly known names for most Americans.
The Treasury issued 4 million stimulus payments by debit card as part of a program to help get stimulus pay out to Americans who didn’t have bank information on file for the last few years with the IRS.
The cards came in unmarked, plain looking envelopes because the Treasury did not want to advertise them as stimulus payments, so as to avoid them falling prey to thieves. However, the press release from the IRS plainly tells everyone what to look for in terms of the cards. The determination of which Americans would receive the debit cards as opposed to checks was made by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, which works with the IRS to distribute payments.
But many people, expecting a paper check, were caught off guard by the cards, and in some cases threw them away. MarketWatch, quoting a local Florida news station, reported on one couple that, thinking the card was fake, cut it up into pieces and threw it away.
On Twitter, numerous people have shed light on the issue. “Got my stimulus debit card (not check) in the mail today and thought it was a scam at first,” wrote Twitter user and reporter Kristina Rex. “So keep your eyes focused while checking the mail!”
The debit cards, according to the IRS press release, can be used to make purchases, transfer funds, withdraw cash at ATMs, and check balances online using computers or phones.
The press release states that the cards provide protection against fraud and loss, similar to the protections afforded to traditional bank cardholders.
The stimulus payments were orchestrated by the government to mitigate the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. With millions unemployed, the payments were intended to buoy people’s finances while they were out of work.