What to know about stimulus payments being delivered as prepaid debit cards

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some people are getting pandemic stimulus payments think they’re being scammed because they’re coming in the form of a prepaid debit card.

The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina said the delivery system is causing confusion and frustration. There is nothing on the card to indicate it is a stimulus payment. It’s a Visa debit card issued by MetaBank, which is a private company. That is confusing recipients.

“They’re thinking they’re scams,’’ said Alyssa Parker of the BBB of Eastern North Carolina. “Why would I get a prepaid debit card? It seems too good to be true.”

Parker said the BBB has had dozens of emails and live chats from people who didn’t realize the cards were a stimulus payment or thought it was a scam. Adding to the confusion is that the cards aren’t coming in an envelope with either the Internal Revenue Service or United States Treasury Department seal. Instead, it comes in a plain envelope with a return address belonging to Money Network Cardholder Services of Omaha, Nebraska.

“Unfortunately, people are throwing these away or cutting them up,” Parker said.

Bonnie Moore did just that when she and her husband got their payment in the mail.

“My husband looked at it briefly, read it, and he said, ‘Do you want this?'” Moore told CBS affiliate WINK. “I said I don’t need another fake card, so he cut it up in little pieces.”

The Treasury Department claimed it can send out stimulus money faster by using a third-party company instead of issuing government checks. There is a catch, though.

“There are all kinds of fees if you don’t use it in the exact way prescribed,” said Jay Bender, who received one of the cards in the mail.

Fees and conditions on the card’s agreement letter include:

  • $2 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals
  • $5 fees for over-the-counter or teller withdrawals
  • $1,000 limit on daily ATM withdrawals

Moore said she took a picture of the card she and her husband destroyed and sent it to stimulus website that was given to them. She asked for a new card. The bank will replace the card, but there are fees of $7.50 to replace it and $17 to ship it.

These cards must be activated before using. That process includes a person providing the last six digits of a their social security number.

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