EIP Debit Cards May Be Stimulating Confusion

A look at the VISA debit card sent out to millions of Americans loaded with stimulus money. The cards were sent out in lieu of stimulus checks.

Recently, about 4 million individuals across the U.S. received VISA debit cards in the mail instead of stimulus checks and —according to the Better Business Bureau — it’s legit.

The lack of up-front notification about the substitution of debit cards for checks by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prompted enough people to call the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that experts there decided to look into it.

“We got information from the relevant government organizations confirming that they partnered with Money Network, which is MetaBank in South Dakota, to get this money out to consumers for their stimulus payments, in lieu of issuing checks to them.” Jessie Schmidt, the state director for the BBB in South Dakota, told the Press & Dakotan. “I heard that the IRS is capable of printing 20,000 checks a month and there were at that time 10 million citizens that had not yet received their stimulus. Four million of them (got) these cards.”

The cards are delivered in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services” and nothing on the envelope identifies it as an Economic Impact Payment (EIP) from the government.

“MetaBank is the U.S. Treasury’s financial agent, and it is their Economic Impact Payment to you,” BBB President Jim Hegarty said. “The card was sent instead of a stimulus check to nearly 4 million Americans who don’t have the necessary bank account information on file with the IRS.”

Though the envelope may look like junk mail, Hegarty cautions EIP card recipients not to destroy or dispose of the cards.

“Several Americans have cut them up or thrown them out,” Schmidt said.

There are still ways to get your money back through the www.eipcard.com website that MetaBank set up for these Economic Impact Payment cards.

“I would encourage you to go to the website because it shows you an example of what the card looks like,” Schmidt said. “It’s got great steps to walk you through (the process), and things to do and things not to do if you’ve cut up your card, that sort of thing.”

In addition to informing you how to activate the card and the fee schedule, a page of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) at www.eipcard.com/faq gives detailed answers to a broad range of specific questions, including:

• Can I transfer the funds from my EIP Card to my bank account? The short answer is, “Yes.”

• What if I discarded or destroyed my EIP Card? Call Customer Service at 1-800-240-8100 (TTY: 1.800.241.9100) immediately and select the “Lost/Stolen” option.

“You have to have a lot of patience,” Schmidt warned. “You can imagine how they have been inundated with phone calls over the last several weeks.”

For those who have not yet gotten their stimulus payment — or aren’t sure — the IRS has a page on its website dedicated to economic impact payments, Schmidt said.

“Go to the www.irs.gov/eip website, click ‘Get My Payment,’ and enter some of your (personal) information,” Schmidt said. “I’ve done that personally. We hadn’t gotten a stimulus payment yet, and, at that time, they told me that it had been issued on May 22. I haven’t seen anything yet.”

In addition to telling you the status of your EIP payment, the “Get My Payment” app shows you your payment type and lets you enter your bank account information so any future stimulus payments can be made directly to your account.

“While this is not a common method to receive money from the government, a lot of people are still waiting for their stimulus,” she said. “It was a responsible and, I think, prudent way to get money in the hands of consumers rather quickly, and they are encouraging people to use the stimulus to help themselves in whatever way they possibly can.”

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For more information go to www.eipcard.com or www.irs.gov/eip.

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