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Gephardt: Stimulus payments arrive on prepaid debit cards, confusing Utah consumers

By Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV | Posted - Jan. 27, 2021 at 9:48 a.m.


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WEST JORDAN – If you got a prepaid debit card in the mail that you weren't expecting, you would be suspicious. But if it happens to you, don't be so quick to toss it out — it may be your stimulus payment.

Some people are getting checks, some are getting direct deposit and some people are getting them in a way that makes them sure it has to be a scam.

When Ty Nielsen got the letter last Friday with "economic stimulus" printed in the corner, he said he "was almost positive it was a scam."

Nielsen got his first stimulus via check, with Lady Liberty and all the other U.S. Treasury Department bells and whistles. But accompanying the letter last week was a debit card.

The envelope in which the debit card came was nondescript.

"This just looked like, it was an envelope with a big window on it and it didn't say government on it anywhere," Nielsen said.

He checked with the Better Business Bureau and was shocked when he learned that it really was his stimulus money.

Britta Clark with Utah's BBB branch said they have been hearing from lots of people like Nielsen.

So have state regulators, according to commerce department spokesman Brian Maxwell, and the KSL Investigators via email and tip line.

While, indeed, some people are getting their stimulus money on debit cards, Clark said the BBB is also seeing scammers trying to wedge their way in.

"With these cards, they might try to send fake cards, and they might have instructions on those fake cards for you to call and give them certain information so that they can activate it when really they're trying to take your identity. Other scams that we wouldn't be surprised to see is people trying to get a slice of it. So, they want to get you to give them your card information so that they can take a piece of that stimulus," Clark said.

Ty Nielsen talks with KSL TV's Matt Gephardt Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.
Ty Nielsen talks with KSL TV's Matt Gephardt Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Photo: KSL TV)

Nielsen was eager to tell his story in the hopes that maybe it helps somebody else. "I didn't quite know who to trust and I get so much junk mail," he said.

As for people who may have trashed their card assuming it was a scam, The KSL Investigators checked with the IRS, which said they are unable to reissue any payments.

Those folks will need to try and claim it when filing their 2020 tax return.

At that time, Kathy Stokes, AARP's director of Fraud Prevention Programs told KSL-TV people were mistaking the prepaid debit cards for junk mail.

"They think it's a scam and they discard it, when in fact, this is the actual economic impact payment for four million people," she said.

"If you receive an Economic Impact Payment Card, it will arrive in a plain envelope from 'Money Network Cardholder Services,'" IRS officials said. "The Visa name will appear on the front of the card. The back of the card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank."

If you tossed out the card or you shredded it because you didn't think it was official, you can call 1-800-240-8100.

More information can be found at EIPcard.com.

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Matt Gephardt
    Sloan Schrage

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