Stimulus Payments Ending up in Trash After People Confuse Them for Junk Mail

The Internal Revenue Service began issuing the remaining Economic Income Payments as debit cards last week, but since the cards are packed in almost anonymous-looking envelopes and so many scams include cards, many Americans are throwing them out. Almost 4 million Americans are receiving their payments this way, with the cards packed in a simple envelope reading "Money Network Cardholder Services," without any federal markings. People have already begun complaining on Twitter after realizing too late that they threw away their payments.

The IRS began sending out the stimulus checks in mid-April, first as direct deposits to taxpayers the IRS had banking information for. Others received them as paper checks in the mail. But last week, the IRS suddenly began sending the payments out as prepaid credit cards. On Thursday, the IRS said the Bureau of the Fiscal Service decided which Americans would receive the debit card instead of a check, and the cards were issued by MetaBank, the Treasury's financial agent. Since it is a Visa card, it can be used to make purchases anywhere Visa is accepted. Taxpayers can also get cash from in-network ATMs and transfer the funds to their bank accounts. The IRS also built a website specifically to answer questions about the card, EIPcard.com.

Considering how the IRS warned taxpayers about scams as the stimulus checks began to be issued, it is understandable why some would be skeptical about the cards. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau spelled it out on its website that the cards are not scams. "This is not a scam. The government is sending some people Economic Impact Payment Cards if they qualified for a stimulus payment and the IRS couldn't direct deposit the payment," the bureau's site reads.

Still, this sudden switch in delivery methods has left taxpayers confused. "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,'" Florida resident Bonnie Moore told WINK. "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. It looks like a bunch of little pieces of a jigsaw puzzle."

Politico editor Zack Stanton shared photos of the envelope, noting that he "almost threw mine out the junk mail." He said his name was spelled incorrectly on the included letter and the debit card. "Got my stimulus check in the form of a prepaid Visa debit card. That’s some serious bulls— right there," another person complained on Twitter.