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Millions of Americans to get stimulus money via prepaid cards

CBS News logo CBS News 5/20/2020 Aimee Picchi
a screenshot of a cell phone: A screenshot of the EIP card website. © CBS News A screenshot of the EIP card website.

Roughly 4 million Americans should soon receive their government stimulus payments through a prepaid debit card, according to the Treasury Department. The cards are being mailed to people who haven't provided their banking information to the IRS, such as low-income households without bank accounts or taxpayers who don't typically receive a tax refund via direct deposit. 

Although 140 million Americans have received stimulus payments since the IRS began sending the coronavirus relief checks in mid-April, another 10 million taxpayers are still waiting on the funds. The payments are part of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, which took effect at the end of March.

The stimulus payments amount to $1,200 for single people who earn less than $75,000, while married couples who earn less than $150,000 get $2,400. Children under 17 are eligible to receive $500.

Some taxpayers who are still waiting for their money have expressed frustration with the process. Because the IRS was forced to close its telephone help center due to the pandemic, consumers haven't been able to connect with an agency representative. As a remedy, the IRS said on Monday it's adding 3,500 workers who will soon answer questions about the payments. 

The debit cards, called Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Cards, will be sent to 4 million taxpayers instead of a paper check or direct deposit. The cards can be used to make purchases, get cash from in-network ATMs or transfer funds to personal bank accounts without any fees, the Treasury Department said. The cards will be accepted at any store where Visa cards can be used, according to the agency. 

The Treasury also said the cards will be issued by MetaBank beginning this week, which will include instructions on how to activate and use the card.

For consumers, the stimulus checks have prompted many questions about who is eligible to receive the money and how to ensure timely payment. The Social Security Administration this month published a seven-page "how-to" for Social Security recipients, which provides guidance on what beneficiaries should do to make sure they get their payments. 

Many Americans that receive extra Social Security benefits for low-income aged, blind or disabled people — the Supplemental Security Income program — are likely to receive their stimulus payments this month through direct deposit or the mail, according to the Social Security Administration. 

Related video: Beware Of Stimulus Check Scams

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