Mass mailings of debit cards for COVID-19 stimulus payments cause confusion

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KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Mass mailings of stimulus debit cards are causing confusion.

As federal lawmakers wrestle with the idea of a second stimulus payment to Americans, there is some concern surrounding the first.

That initial payment is being made in the form of debit cards to millions of people, causing confusion for many recipients.

The card comes in a rather plain looking envelope that does not indicate it’s from the federal government. Some people have discarded the card and scammers are seizing the opportunity to try and deceive you out of your money.

“To me this is another credit card. Sign up for another credit card,” Dave English of Kingston said.

It’s actually an envelope containing a valid stimulus debit card. Eyewitness News showed English. The Kingston man hasn’t received his stimulus payment to date and wonders if he made a potentially costly mistake.

“A lot of people are throwing them, discarding them thinking they are junk. I’m really hoping I am not one of them. It’s true because I could really use the money and I know the community could use the money. You know, that’s what it’s for, is to stimulate everything for everybody, to try to get us back on our feet,” English said.

“Just last week, the Internal Revenue Service started sending out to 4 million people, 156,000 alone in Pennsylvania, their economic impact payment on a debit card,” said Kathy Stokes, AARP’s Director of Fraud Prevention Programs.

Some recipients have discarded them because they thought it was junk mail. So what do you do if you think you threw yours out? You can contact the sender, Money Network Cardholder Services in Omaha, Nebraska.

“You can explain you discarded the card not knowing what it was. They will deactivate that card and they will send you a new one. They won’t charge you for it, but if it happens again they will charge you $7.50,” said Stokes.

Discarding the stimulus debit card is only one mistake. Another according to Stokes is falling victim to stimulus scams.

“If you get an email, or call or text that says ‘hey we’re following up from the bank or IRS, did you receive your payment? They are trying to find a way for you to confirm that by giving the pin number of the debit card number or the social security number. Just don’t engage because it’s absolutely a scam,” said Stokes. “I think that we always just need to remember that when there’s money and it’s floating around by the millions, scammers are going to do everything they can to try and get a piece of it.”

Another word of warning: if you are looking around online for a contact phone number about the stimulus, you may end up finding a scam number that, if you call, could separate you from your money and your personal information.

We also have some resources to protect you from fraud:

Money Network Cardholder Services: 1-888-913-0900

AARP toll-free Fraud Watch Network helpline: 877-908-3360

AARP coronavirus resources  

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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