For Some, Federal Stimulus Money Comes in Form of Debit Card

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Are you among the 4 or so million Americans who recently received a letter from the White House along with a prepaid VISA debit card issued by Meta Bank?

Well, don’t throw the card out; it’s not junk mail.

And don’t activate your card yet either. Or at least don’t activate it until you make sure that you were really supposed to receive the economic impact payment card (EIC Card).

For context, in May, the IRS sent Economic Impact Payments by prepaid VISA debit cards to individuals who qualified for a stimulus payment under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and didn't receive a payment via direct deposit.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the EIP Card is a Treasury-sponsored, VISA-branded, prepaid debit card that provides a safe, convenient and secure way for EIP recipients to access their Economic Impact Payments without having to go to a bank or credit union to cash a check.

In an interview, Jeffrey Levine, director of advance planning for Buckingham Wealth Partners, explained how the EIP Card can be activated - you have to give the last six digits of your Social Security number!) and used, and what to do if it is lost or stolen.

“We always encourage people: Don’t give away your Social Security number,” he said.

But that’s what the White House wants you to do in order to activate the EIP card.

Naturally, many people have been very suspicious, and have either thrown the card away thinking it’s junk mail or tucked it away in a drawer while they research further whether it’s real or not.

Tip one: Make sure it’s real. Visit the IRS.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-919-9835 to make sure the EIP card is real.

Tip two: If you accidentally shredded the card or lost it, contact the IRS. Thankfully, the $17 expediting fee has been waived, according to Levine.

Tip three: If you think you accidentally threw the junk-mail looking envelope away, visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment to determine if an EIP Card was issued to you.

Tip four: Your stimulus check is not necessarily a check, says Levine. 

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