What to expect from Economic Impact Payment Cards

(BPT) - With the enactment of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, millions of eligible individuals will receive a second Economic Impact Payment (EIP). The Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service) is distributing these payments on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). To speed delivery of payments, some individuals will receive their payment in the form of an EIP Card, which is a safe, convenient and secure prepaid debit card. EIP Cards were mailed beginning the week of Jan. 4, 2021.

Individuals receiving a second round of stimulus payments through an EIP Card will receive a new card. Funds will not be loaded onto previously issued EIP Cards. Some people who received a paper check last time will receive a debit card this time, and some people who received a debit card last time will receive a paper check. EIP Cards are sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Service, managed by Money Network Financial, LLC, and issued by MetaBank®, N.A.

What Economic Impact Payment Cards look like and how they work

These prepaid Visa debit cards are sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal and enable individuals to directly access their EIP. EIP Cards can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

EIP Cards offer an easy-to-use way for Americans to receive and access government and emergency relief benefits. These prepaid cards look and work like traditional debit cards.

Using an EIP Card is quick, easy and secure. It can be used to:

  • Pay for purchases online, in-person or over the phone everywhere Visa is accepted
  • Pay many bills and get cash back at participating merchants
  • Withdraw cash from an ATM or a bank/credit union teller
  • Transfer funds to a personal bank account

How to get started

The first step when you receive your EIP Card is to activate it by calling at 1-800-240-8100 or online at EIPCard.com.

During activation, you will be asked to input your card number, the last 6 digits of your Social Security number and the 3-digit security code from the back of your EIP Card. You could be asked to further validate your identity by providing, at minimum, your name and address, or answering identity verification questions. You will also be asked to create a 4-digit PIN required for ATM transactions, automated telephone assistance and to obtain your EIP Card balance. For your account security, do not use personal information as your PIN. For EIP Cards with more than one name listed, only the primary cardholder (listed first on the EIP Card) may activate the card.

Keep your PIN number handy for automated telephone assistance and secure future transactions. For example, when withdrawing cash from an ATM, enter your 4-digit PIN and select “Withdraw” from “Checking”. ATM withdrawals can be made surcharge-free at any ATM that carries the AllPoint® brand.

Discarded or destroyed cards

If your EIP Card is accidently discarded or destroyed, you can call the Customer Service number at 1-800-240-8100 and report it “Lost/Stolen.” Your EIP Card will be deactivated to prevent anyone from using it and a new replacement card will be ordered. You do not need to know your card number and your reissued EIP card is free. Review the Fee Schedule and Cardholder Agreement at EIPCard.com for more information.

Protect yourself

It is important to know that the IRS, MetaBank®, N.A., Money Network and Visa do not contact cardholders directly requesting their personal account information. That said, cybercriminals and fraudsters are constantly counting on individuals to be distracted and let their guard down. If successful, they can trick people into handing over personal or financial information using a tactic known as phishing.

Here are some common forms of phishing that one may encounter and warning signs to look out for:

Phone Call Phishing

  • Consumers should look out for a phone call from “your credit card company” or “financial institution.” The caller will typically identify themselves as someone who works in the “Security and Fraud Department.”
  • They will note that your card has been flagged for suspicious transactions and will ask for you to prove that the card is in your possession. You may then be asked to provide the three-digit security code on the back of your card, your PIN, or a verification code that was just sent to you.

Email Phishing

  • Be on the lookout for spelling and grammar errors in the subject line or body of the email. It also may be a warning sign if the email does not address you by name or if the email address does not match the organization (e.g., irs.net).
  • Scammers will also sometimes include deadlines or threaten account suspension to add urgency and override your normal sense of caution. If the sender does not provide contact information, or if something feels suspicious (e.g., asking you to click a hyperlink) please contact the card issuer at 1-800-240-8100.

Text Message Phishing

  • Be aware if the sender sends a link rather than a phone number to call. Scammers may also ask that you log onto your account to verify a transaction by providing your PIN or three-digit CVV code.

Website Phishing

  • It may also be a red flag if there is something slightly off about the website or the address or if there are misspelled words or odd logos.
  • Look out for unusual pop-ups on the site that request you enter personal account information. Also be wary of HTML links that do not match their destination.
  • If you are unsure about a link, you should manually enter the full website URL or address into your browser instead of clicking on a link provided to you.

Social Media Phishing

  • Warning signs include friend requests from someone you do not know, or a post asking you to click on a link and provide personal information.

For more information on Economic Impact Payments, visit EIPcard.com.

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