Coronavirus

Stimulus check: the IRS debit card and how to avoid fraud

The U.S. Treasury will send four million Economic Impact Payments via prepaid cards which includes protections against fraud, loss and other errors.

Stimulus check: the IRS debit card and how to avoid fraud

Over the past five weeks the Internal Revenue Service has sent 140 million people their stimulus payments but there are 10 million who are still waiting to get help amid the coronavirus pandemic. The United States Treasury has decided to send 4 million Economic Impact Payments (EIP) via prepaid debit cards to those who don’t have a bank account information on file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

IRS Debit card protection

The EIP card is being issued by MetaBank and it has the same protection as traditional debit cards, including for fraud, loss and other errors. Even if people decide to use the EIP card for online shopping they can feel safe about it.

The Treasury wants to aid the Americans who need the money as they face financial challenges and this is a clear way of doing it for those who are eligible, based on the CARES Act signed by President Donald Trump back in March. Since then the IRS has been clear that it could take up to four or five months to process the millions of checks for people who have not filed their taxes.

US President Donald J. Trump arrives to attend the Republican Senate luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, USA, 19 May 2020.

This is not the first time the Treasury has used prepaid cards for stimulus payments and it has been a popular method among politicians because in several proposals they have included EIP cards to send eligible taxpayers money during the pandemic.

The IRS is using this method to test how quickly they can produce and issue the cards to eligible Americans so they can improve their efficiency in issuing stimulus check payments. If the EIP cards prove to be successful, it is possible that any future payments - for example, the HEROES Act stimulus checks, in the unlikely event it is approved - will be issued via prepaid debit card.