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Stimulus check US: EIP Cards being mistaken for scam, junk mail

Around four million coronavirus Economic Impact Payments are being sent out as prepaid debit cards, but some people are accidentally throwing them away.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 26, 2020, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)  at Wall Street in New York City. - Another 2.12 million people filed for unemployment in the US last week, pushing total layoffs since the start of the coronavirus crisi

As part of the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion coronavirus relief package, eligible Americans have been receiving stimulus checks of up to $1,200 since April, in a bid to help them cope with the financial effects of a pandemic that has seen over 40 million people file for unemployment benefits since March.

Just under $260 billion has been sent out in Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) across the States, the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said last week.

Four million stimulus checks sent out as EIP Cards

Most EIPs have been sent either by direct bank deposit or as a paper check, but the Treasury and the IRS revealed earlier this month that they had begun mailing out around four million checks in the form of prepaid debit cards.

Prepaid debit cards are secure, easy to use, and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin in the announcement. “Recipients can immediately activate and use the cards safely.”

EIP Card mistaken for scam or junk mail

However, it appears that some recipients of the debit card, called the EIP Card, have been mistaking it for a scam or junk mail, leading to instances of people throwing it away. Jacké Dollar of Des Moines, Iowa, told USA Today that she cut up the card after receiving it, before later realising: “Oh my gosh, I bet it's that stimulus thing.”

Meanwhile, Bonnie Moore of Florida told WINK-TV: “My husband looked at it, briefly read it and he said, ‘Do you want this?’ And I said, ‘I don’t need another fake card,’ so he cut it up in little pieces. The next thing you see is I am in the garbage can trying to pull out all of the pieces together, which did not work.”

Envelope and card confuse recipients

The confusion is arising because the EIP Cards are arriving in envelopes marked Money Network Cardholder Services, while the card itself is issued by MetaBank, the Treasury’s financial agent. Both are names which are unfamiliar to most. Neither the envelope nor the card mention the Treasury or the IRS, although the letter accompanying the EIP Card does bear the Treasury's logo.

How to get a new EIP Card

If you have mistakenly thrown out your EIP Card, or lost it or had it stolen, contact the customer service automated response hotline at 1-800-240-8100 or go online to www.eipcard.com. Receiving a new card comes with a $7 replacement fee, plus a further $17 in postage and handling costs.

Live coverage of the coronavirus crisis

You can follow United States-focused live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.