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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Economic Impact Payments Are Arriving Through Mailed Debit Cards

Better Business Bureau

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is now mailing Economic Impact Payments in the form of prepaid debit cards. Most Americans already received their EIP either by direct deposit to their bank account or in the form of a mailed check. However, the debit cards are being sent to some consumers for whom the IRS did not have bank account information on file.

The Treasury announced that this method allows them to provide the money “efficiently and securely” to eligible recipients. Consumers have contacted the Better Business Bureau thinking these cards may be a scam. Rest assured, the IRS is, indeed, sending out prepaid debit cards. 

Consumers do need to be vigilant to ensure that the card they receive is legitimate, and to be on the lookout for scams. 

How do you recognize a legitimate EIP card? It will arrive in a plain envelope with the return address of “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The Visa® name will appear on the front of the card; the back of the card has the name of the issuing bank: “MetaBank®, N.A.” The welcome kit explains more about the EIP card. Please go to EIPcard.com for more information, and to see a sample image of the card. Once the card has been verified, activate it by calling the number provided and setting a 4-digit PIN. Then sign the card, and keep it in a safe place. 

Do not share the information on the card with anyone. Use the card anywhere Visa cards are accepted, and get cash back at a retailer or ATM. Note that most transactions are free, but certain uses could incur fees. 

BBB warns that scammers may try to text, call, or email you trying to get you to give up your card number or your personal information. Report any phishing or scam attempts to the IRS and file a report with BBB Scam Tracker to warn others not to fall for the scam.