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Stimulus check update: The IRS is mailing out 8 million preloaded debit cards

Published Jan 8th, 2021 11:28AM EST
New stimulus check
Image: Pamela Au/Adobe

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  • The IRS and Treasury Department are in the process of sending millions of Americans a new stimulus check — in the form of preloaded debit cards.
  • The IRS said Thursday that it’s mailing out about 8 million of the debit cards preloaded with stimulus payments of up to $600.
  • The stimulus payments will be sent out through January 15.

Here’s an important piece of advice from the IRS for anyone who’s still waiting on their new stimulus check to arrive — don’t automatically through away any mail, starting now, that looks like it might be junk.

The tax agency said that it’s in the process of mailing out about 8 million debit cards preloaded with stimulus payments of up to $600. If you’ll recall, the IRS did this in early 2020 as well, and compounding a less-than-stellar rollout of the first stimulus payments was the fact that these mailed-out debit cards looked like random junk mail — so some recipients inadvertently threw them in the trash. “IRS and Treasury urge eligible people who don’t receive a direct deposit to watch their mail carefully during this period,” the IRS announced about the new stimulus checks, the disbursement of which is supposed to be done on January 15. “The prepaid debit card, called the Economic Impact Payment card, is sponsored by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service and is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A.”

If you’re one of the taxpayers who chose to receive your stimulus payment in the form of a preloaded debit card, know that it will come in an envelope this time that prominently displays the seal of the Treasury Department.

Also, don’t assume that your payment format this time around will be the same as your first one (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.

If you do receive one of the debit cards, it 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.

On a related note, but separate from these payments, President-elect Joe Biden is reportedly considering sending stimulus legislation to Congress — to, remember, a Democrat-controlled Congress come January 20 — that includes top-up stimulus payments to give people the $2,000 they should have gotten this time, but for Congress’ last-minute scuttling of a push to raise the check amounts. The details are still sketchy about the Biden plan, but it seems at this point to be a case of sending people $1,400 payments, for example, if they got $600 this time.

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.