On Your Side: What to know if you received a stimulus prepaid debit card payment

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(WATE) — Back in late March, the government approved stimulus money in order to keep the economy going in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. So far, the Treasury Department has delivered stimulus payments to 140 million people, but within the last week, prepaid debit cards were mailed, instead of checks, and some people threw them away believing they’re a hoax.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare reports there is a way to tell if the card you received is real or a hoax.

How to tell if your prepaid debit card stimulus payment is real or a hoax?

If you received a prepaid debit card instead of direct deposit or check as your stimulus payment, here are two distinct indications that the card you received is legitimate:

  • There will be a note inside the envelope containing the prepaid debit card explaining how your economic impact payment card works.
  • Then you’ll be instructed to create a pin, and use it just like a debit card.

However, these prepaid debit cards are sent in plain white envelopes that don’t bear any federal markings; and for some, it may seem like an unwanted credit card application.

What to do if you accidentally threw away your stimulus card?

  • First, don’t panic.
  • Just go to the EIP website and you will see a number to call, in order to get a replacement card.

So, if you cut up your card, all is not lost; you’ve got two options:

  • Either call the customer service phone number 1-800-240-8100 and you pay $7.50 to get the card reissued;
  • Or, if you can piece it together, you can register the card as an account online and transfer the funds out to your bank account for free.

More to know:

If your stimulus check came in the mail, it would’ve been clearly marked as Economic Impact Payment (EIP) with the president’s name on it.

Recently, non-descriptive VISA prepaid debit cards were sent out to millions of Americans with no reference to stimulus or EIP.

“There’s about four million of them that were sent for people who didn’t have banking information on file with the IRS. They sent it our via a debit card, but it comes in a plain white envelope. It says ‘Money Network, card holder services.’ So, a lot of people are mistaking this for junk mail.”

Tony Binkley – Better Business Bureau President

Tony Binkley, President of the Better Business Bureau says on the back side of the card, you’ll see reference to Meta Bank, which is actually the Treasury Department’s financial agent, but most people don’t know that.

“Will I think it’s just such a plain envelope with a company that people don’t recognize, so they just throw it in the trash.”


Don Lindsey represents AARP, and he says some seniors were suspicious when they received the card.

“It comes in the envelope that looks like to a lot of people a scam or a marketing piece. A lot of people just say, ‘okay I’ve seen these before’ and out it goes. Oops! That’s $1,200 that is suddenly in the trash can.”

Don Lindsey AARP Spokesperson

The EIP has a website for you to go to in order to activate the card, and it will provide examples like:

  • How to activate the card by setting a four-digit PIN.
  • You will need to enter some personal information to get the card activated, and know what the balance on the card is.

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