Coronavirus IRS stimulus payments on prepaid debit cards arriving: What to know

Will your credit score be affected? Can the government see how you spend your money?

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The IRS has sent out more than 150 million economic impact payments, and it is still working to issue more, including millions on prepaid debit cards.

About 4 million people can expect to receive their stimulus cash on the preloaded Visa cards, which are being sent in the mail in plain envelopes marked “Money Network Cardholder Services.” They differ from typical debit cards because they are not linked to bank accounts and instead just come preloaded with an individual’s allotted stimulus payment amount.

The debit cards, issued by the Treasury Department’s financial agent MetaBank, are being sent to some individuals instead of paper checks if they don’t have direct deposit information on file with the tax agency.

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Here’s some details about using the cards, according to information put out by the government:

Why did you receive it?

According to the IRS, the 4 million people who will receive their $1,200 economic impact payments on prepaid debit cards were determined by a part of the Treasury Department known as the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.

How do you activate it?

Users can activate their card and set up their four-digit PIN by calling 1.800.240.8100.

You will be asked to confirm your identity by at least providing your name, address and Social Security number.

What if the card has two names on it?

For cards with two names, only the primary cardholder – the first name listed – will be able to activate the card.

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What can you do with the card?

Recipients can make purchases online or at retail locations where Visa is accepted. They can also get cash at in-network ATMs and transfer funds to their personal bank accounts.

The money can be used to pay bills.

In order to see how much is left on your card, you can check balances online, by phone or via mobile app.

All of this can be done without incurring a fee.

When might using the card incur a fee?

If you use out-of-network ATMs, you will not be charged the first time – but each subsequent withdrawal will come with a $2.00 fee.

International ATM withdrawals carry a $3.00 fee.

Reissuing a card that is lost or stolen will cost you $7.50 – and priority shipping could tack on another $17.00.

The first time you withdraw over-the-counter at a bank you won’t be charged, but subsequent cash withdrawals this way will cost $5.00 each.

What happens if your card is lost or stolen?

Log in at EIPCard.com to block unauthorized transactions and call 1-800-240-8100 to report it.

This is also the number you should call if you forget your PIN: 1-800-240-8100.

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Can you have your money sent to your own prepaid debit card?

Some people may be able to, if their payment has not yet been scheduled by the government. Many reloadable cards have routing and account numbers that could be provided to the IRS through their website, but you would first need to check with your financial institution.

Can you request to have your economic impact payment sent this way?

At this time taxpayers are unable to choose to have their stimulus payments sent this way.

Can the card affect your credit score?

No.

Will the government know how you spend your money?

No.

Beware of scams

The IRS also reminded people on Wednesday that there are a number of economic impact-related scams circulating by email, phone call and text.

It reiterated that its agents will never send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments or share sensitive information.

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