Americans are confusing physical stimulus payments for junk mail

The federal government is now issuing prepaid cards in lieu of checks

Economic Impact Payment Card

Americans continue to receive stimulus payments intended to help boost the economy in the mail, but some may be throwing the money away unknowingly.

NBC News reports that some people have accidentally tossed their payouts in the garbage because the envelopes don’t fit the bill of federal mail. A new batch of payouts was sent in regular white envelopes that receivers may confuse for junk mail, the outlet said.

While others have received the cash via direct deposit or a physical check, the latest round of payments was distributed in the form of prepaid debit cards. The IRS and Treasury Department placed the cards in white envelopes that say “Money Network Cardholder Services.”

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Zack Stanton, an editor at Politico, tweeted that he almost threw away a card that had $2,400 dollars on it.

“No idea if this is any indication of others’ experiences with their coronavirus stimulus money, but I almost threw mine out with the junk mail,” he wrote. “The return address was ‘Money Network Cardholder Services,'” Stanton tweeted. “No indication it’s from the govt/U.S. Treasury.”

Florida resident Bonnie Moore told WINK-TV that she cut her card up after thinking it was junk mail.

“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,” Moore said. “It looks like a bunch of little pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.”

The IRS posted on an FAQ page ways to ensure the prepaid card is valid. The federal agency instructed recipients to look for a VISA logo on the card and an attached letter explaining the “Economic Impact Payment Card.”

The IRS also stated that it realized that the envelopes may be misleading.

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“This is not a scam,” it says on the FAQ page. “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.”

About 4 million people have or will receive these envelopes that lack a federal designation. The stimulus program, funded under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act package designed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, provided as much as $1,200 per eligible individual and $2,400 per couple to help weather the economic downturn.

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