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You might miss your stimulus check if you don’t realize this one thing

Published Jan 14th, 2021 2:17PM EST
New stimulus check
Image: Pamela Au/Adobe
  • Tomorrow, January 15, marks the deadline when the IRS and Treasury Department are supposed to stop the process of sending out a new stimulus check to millions of Americans.
  • Earlier this month, the IRS said that some people are actually getting a preloaded debit card as their new stimulus check.
  • An estimated 8 million debit cards are being mailed out in lieu of a new stimulus check in paper form.

Here’s where things stand with the process of mailing out a new stimulus check to millions of Americans, a process that is actually now in its final stage.

The IRS and Treasury Department were given a deadline of tomorrow, January 15, via the $900 billion COVID relief legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump back in December. That’s the deadline when new stimulus check mailouts are supposed to stop — but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive your payment no later than that date. If the IRS mails out your $600 stimulus check either today or tomorrow, it still could take another week or so to make its way through the mail system to your home. And speaking of receiving your new stimulus check, what you actually receive might not even be a check at all.

The IRS recently clarified the form that the new stimulus check will take for millions of Americans, in an effort to make people aware that they need to keep an eye on their mail and not carelessly throw away anything they don’t recognize or that looks like junk mail. The payments are coming in one of three ways — via a direct deposit to a bank account (which is how most people will receive this new payment), as well as via a paper check sent through the mail, and also a debit card preloaded with the individual’s new stimulus payment amount.

The IRS earlier this month said that about 8 million people will receive their stimulus debit cards mailed to their homes. And you should know that they’ll come in envelopes with a Treasury Department seal prominently displayed.

During the first round of stimulus checks, there were several instances of people throwing these debit cards in the garbage because they didn’t realize what they were. Considering all the spam mail so many of us receive on a daily basis, this isn’t terribly surprising.

As far as the debit cards themselves, they will have the Visa name on the front of the card and the issuing bank name, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back. Each mailing will also include instructions on how to securely activate and use the card. Also important to know: Don’t assume that your payment format this time around will be the same as your first stimulus check format (unless the IRS has your banking information, because direct deposits are the preferred stimulus payment method).

The IRS says that some people who got a paper check last time might get their stimulus funds via a debit card this time, and vice versa.

This site, meanwhile, has more details on how to use the stimulus check debit card, as well as important information about its appearance, and more.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.