CORONAVIRUS

Stimulus check: what color is the envelope carrying IRS payment?

Chiefly in the case of the EIP Card, some Americans have mistaken the coronavirus stimulus check they have received in the post for a scam or junk mail.

Stimulus check: what color is the envelope carrying IRS payment?
KEVIN DIETSCH / POOL EFE

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 first-time unemployment benefits over the last 10 weeks.

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 in their most recent EIP figures.

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 last 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 people to throw it away. Jacké Dollar from 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.”

Plain white envelope and card confuse recipients

The confusion is arising because the EIP Cards are arriving in plain white envelopes from Money Network Cardholder Services, an name unfamiliar to most. What's more, the card itself is issued by MetaBank, who are the Treasury’s financial agent but are also not widely known.

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.

By contrast, those receiving a paper check are getting their payment in an envelope (also white) with the Department of the Treasury clearly printed on it, causing fewer doubts about its legitimacy.

How to get a new EIP Card

If you have mistakenly thrown out your EIP Card, or lost it or had it stolen, call 1-800-240-8100 or go online to www.eipcard.com.

Live coverage of the coronavirus crisis

At the time of writing, the coronavirus pandemic had led to 1,811,277 cases and 105,147 deaths in the US, which has been the country most affected by the virus.

You can get the latest United States-focused news on the coronavirus pandemic by following our dedicated US live blog. We also have a feed covering the protests over the killing of George Floyd here.