The IRS recently announced that it is sending some COVID-19 economic impact payments, or “stimulus checks,” to nearly 4 million people in the form of prepaid debit cards, adding a third payment method to the already established paper checks and direct deposits.

These prepaid debit cards are being sent in plain envelopes from “Money Network Cardholder Services” and are VISA-branded. The Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program has received calls from Vermonters who are concerned these cards are scams. Attorney General T.J. Donovan wants to raise awareness about this payment method and to remind Vermonters to beware of scammers looking to cash in on card-confusion.

“While Vermonters keep an eye out for their economic impact payments, whether in the form or direct deposit, paper check or prepaid debit card, they should always remember that the government will never call, text, or email you about the payments,” said Donovan. “If there are questions about your payment, you will need to call the IRS or the Treasury Department, not the other way around.”

Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help you identify your prepaid debit card from a scam:

  • Look for the prepaid card (and its envelope) in the mail. The envelope will be from “Money Network Cardholder Service.” Inside will be a VISA-branded prepaid card issued by MetaBank. This card will give you access to your economic impact payment.
  • Activate the card immediately. The mailer will give you instructions on how to activate the card, including calling 800-240-8100 or visiting USdebitcard.gov and clicking on the economic impact payment card link. To activate your card, though, you will have to give your Social Security number.
  • The IRS and U.S. Treasury Department will not call, text, email, or contact you on social media about your stimulus payment. If someone does contact you and asks that you provide sensitive personal information or payment, stop. It’s a scam.

For questions or to report a scam, contact the Consumer Assistance Program at 800-649-2424 or email [email protected]

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