Despite IRS warning, stimulus checks and debit cards cause confusion



(NEXSTAR) – Despite the Internal Revenue Service urging people earlier this month to keep a careful eye on their mailboxes for the plain, white envelope holding their COVID relief payment, it appears some people are still mistaking them for junk mail.

Jim Wallace said he almost threw away the envelope with clear plastic over the address field and an unfamiliar seal and address in the top left corner.

“It didn’t look like U.S. Government mail,” the Cincinnati-area man said. “It looked like junk mail.”

Others, like Tami Cal, weren’t expecting anything in the mail after receiving their first stimulus check in the form of a direct deposit.

Alex Juarez, with the AARP in Arizona, told KSAZ he expects “many cases” of seniors – who are routinely targeted with phishing attempts by mail – throwing away the envelopes thinking they are a scam.

On Jan. 8, the IRS advised those who hadn’t received a direct deposit to watch their mail for either a paper check or a prepaid debit card.

People who received the first stimulus payment as part of the CARES Act in the form of a check may not get their second payment in the same form, and vice versa, the IRS said.

“To speed delivery of the payments to reach as many people as soon as possible the Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Service is sending payments out by prepaid debit card,” according to the IRS.

Those physical payments, however, will arrive in plain white envelopes with a U.S. Department of the Treasury seal, so “be sure not to throw it away,” California Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeted.

The rollout of the long-awaited second round of stimulus checks was plagued by delays and routing errors.

“These EIP Cards follow the millions of payments already made by direct deposit and the ongoing mailing of paper checks that are delivering the second round of Economic Impact Payments as rapidly as possible,” the IRS said.

A sample envelope and Economic Impact Payment debit card shown on the Internal Revenue website.

For more information on the debit card rollout or to track a payment, see the IRS website.

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