ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Millions of Americans still waiting for their stimulus check from the federal government may have received it and not realized it.
The IRS is sending out four-million stimulus payments in the form of Visa prepaid debit cards.
The problem is many taxpayers are expecting a paper check to show up in their mailbox, not a debit card.
As a result, some have cut it up thinking it wasn’t legitimate, which others have reported it as a scam.
Gail Parkin of Arlington said at first glance she thought it was a credit card.
“It came in a plain white envelope with a return address from Omaha, Nebraska,” she said. “It wasn’t until I read the pamphlet inside that I realized this was my stimulus payment.”
Parkin said she had to call more than a half of a dozen times and had to answer personal security questions to active the card.
“I was becoming increasingly concerned that this was identity theft of some sorts. I really was,” she explained.
Parkin reported it to the FBI who referred her to the Federal Trade Commission.
After not receiving any answers, Parkin said there was only one way to find out if her card was real.
“I said to my husband, ‘Let’s go buy dinner with it. Let’s see if this works.’”
And it did.
Parkin said she still has not received a PIN for the card so can’t use it at an ATM or deposit the money into her bank account.
The IRS started sending these cards out last week as a way to get payments out faster.
Most who are receiving these cards filed taxes with the IRS in 2018 or 2019 but did not set up direct deposit. Their taxes returns were also processed by the Andover, Massachusetts or Austin, Texas IRS Service Centers.
The card can be used for free online, over the phone, or in person the same way any Visa debit card can be used.
You can also withdraw cash for free at ATMs in the card’s network or by transferring the money to a bank account.
The IRS said most people should never incur a fee with these cards unless they:
— ask for the balance at an ATM ($0.25) (but there are other ways to find out the balance for free, including calling, using the mobile app, going online, or asking for free monthly paper statements)
— take more than one withdrawal at an ATM that is not in the card’s network ($2)
— use the card internationally
— lose it and need a replacement