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Confusion as Stimulus Payments Arrive On Prepaid Debit Cards

By Craig R. Erickson, CPA, Partner, Wiss

With cybersecurity breaches, identity theft and other cyber-crimes on the rise during this pandemic, the amount of skepticism shown in the exchange above is warranted and refreshing.  

But have no fear: That prepaid debit card you have received is in fact an Economic Impact Payment Card (EIPCard), which contains your federal relief payment provided for by the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Over the past few days, Money Network Cardholder Services in Omaha has mailed out prepaid debit cards in plain white envelopes designed to protect against fraud.  

The debit cards are sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, managed by Money Network Financial, LLC (which owns Money Network Cardholder Services) and issued by Treasury’s financial agent MetaBank, N.A. These cards were issued to nearly 4 million Americans in place of checks in an effort to speedily distribute the payments. 

This unusual method of delivery caught a lot of people by surprise, inspiring questions about the legitimacy of the cards. Here are answers to some of the most common questions:

How do I activate my card?

Call 1 (800) 240-8100 (TTY: 1 (800) 241-9100). During activation, you will be asked to input your card number, the last 6-digits of your social security number and the three-digit security code from the back of your card. You could be asked to further validate your identity by providing, at a minimum, your name and address, or to answer identity verification questions. In some instances, the first name of one payee is linked to the last name of a second payee on the card. For mismatched names, the payee with the first name on the first line must activate the card and/or validate identity to continue activation. For cards with more than one name, only the primary cardholder (listed first on the card) may activate the card. You will also be asked to create a four-digit PIN required for ATM transactions and automated assistance and balance inquiries.

How do I use the card?

The prepaid debit cards can be used to make purchases at any store or used to make an online purchase where Visa is accepted. Recipients can also use automated teller machines (ATMs) and take cash from the card. Keep in mind that there may be restrictions on how much money you can take from the ATM, as many banks have daily withdrawal limits; usually $1,000. Also keep in mind that you will need to find an ATM that is in MetaBank’s network to avoid fees. Use the EIPCard ATM Locator to find one near you.

Can I transfer money from the card to my own personal account?

Yes, an individual can transfer funds from the prepaid card to an existing bank account online via www.eipcard.com or using the Money Network Mobile App. First, activate your card (see above), then register for access by clicking “Register” on the website or mobile app. From there, follow the steps to create a user ID and password. Make sure you have your prepaid card handy. Next, select “Move Money Out” and follow the steps to setup your ACH transfer. You will need your routing and account numbers for the destination bank account. It should take 1-2 business days for transfers to post. Note that ACH transfers to domestic bank limits apply: $2,500 per transaction, $2,500 per day, $5,000 per month. See the EIPCard cardholder agreement for more information.

I thought this was a scam so I destroyed my debit card. What do I do?

If you discarded or destroyed your card, call customer service at 1 (800) 240-8100 (TTY: 1 (800) 241-9100) and select the “Lost/Stolen” option. Your card will be deactivated to prevent anyone from using it, and a replacement card will be ordered. Your first reissued card will be free, then a $7.50 fee will be applied for each additional reissued card. 

Questions about your EIPCard? Reach out to a Wiss team member for guidance.

Craig Erickson, EIP, EIP Cards, Stimulus Check

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