What to do if you accidentally threw away your stimulus money

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the IRS continues to send stimulus money on prepaid debit cards to 4 million Americans, many are having difficulty with the cards.

A growing number of people are discovering they threw out their stimulus money, thinking the debit card it arrived on was a scam. Others are finding surprising fees are eating up their stimulus cash when they try to use the cards.

If you threw your card away, The Treasury Department says you can request a free replacement through customer service at 1-800-240-8100.

Here’s what to look for: The card is issued by MetaBank. You’ll need to call the number on the back, confirm your identity and set up a pin to use the card.

You can either use the debit card to make purchases or use the card at an ATM. If you don’t want to keep your stimulus money on the card, the IRS recommends contacting your bank and transferring the money to your own bank account.

If you decide to keep your money on the card, you could run into fees when you use your card for things like out-of-network ATMs and withdrawing cash via bank teller, said Susannah Snider, a financial planner with U.S. News & World Report.

“Unlike a paper check, unlike a direct deposit, there are fees, so it is an extra challenge for people who are receiving them to understand how to use them effectively without having all of that money chipped away at by little fees,” Snider said.

Many of the fees are waived the first time you use the card, Snider said, but they can add up quickly after that.

If you want to avoid fees, you can transfer the balance to your personal bank account.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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