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Susan Tompor: As talk builds for second stimulus, questions remain about first payout

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

And now, time for "It's Not a Stimulus Scam, the Sequel."

First, consumers had to be assured in June that the navy blue Visa debit cards that just showed up in the mail beginning in late May really did contain stimulus money. The unexpected plastic card wasn't a scam or a special promotion, as some thought.

Now, letters from the U.S. Department of the Treasury are being sent in July to alert consumers about unused prepaid cards and how to activate the cards in order to spend your Economic Impact Payment, if you have one sitting in a drawer somewhere.

The letter also will show you how to get a replacement card, if you've lost the card or thrown it away. And this letter isn't a scam either.

The good news: The latest envelopes containing these letters will state in red: "Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment."

A relatively small group -- nearly 4 million people -- are going to receive their Economic Impact Payment via prepaid debit cards, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That prepaid card is being sent to some consumers instead of a paper check.

 

The prepaid cards could come in handy, too, should Congress approve the roll out of a more limited round of stimulus payments to be issued later this summer or fall. So experts say you might not want to throw away the blue Visa card even if you've already spent the money on it. It's possible the government could use those cards to issue another round of stimulus cash for some.

If someone sends you an email out of the blue, though, or calls offering to help you get your stimulus money, ignore such attempts, which are scams.

How to skip fees on stimulus Visa cards

The prepaid cards have created a brand new level of confusion in a fairly confusing rollout for stimulus cash.

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