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Omaha residents surprised by stimulus debit cards, wary of mail fraud

The cards are being distributed to people without bank information on file with the IRS, and...
The cards are being distributed to people without bank information on file with the IRS, and whose tax return was processed by either the Andover or Austin IRS Service Center. (Source: U.S. Treasury Dept./CNN)(KOLNKGIN)
Published: May. 22, 2020 at 6:12 AM CDT
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Until now, people have only received their stimulus money through direct deposit or a paper check in the mail.

But May 19, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that Economic Impact Payment cards would go out to about 4 million people who qualified for stimulus money but didn't give direct deposit information to the Internal Revenue Service.

On Thursday, our sister station WOWT 6 News spoke with two people who received the new prepaid debit card. They said the government failed to let them know about it, which concerns them.

Larry Dowden said a white envelope came in the mail this week. He said the envelope looked a little strange so he thought it might be a scam.

“First thought was, we’ll just cut it up and throw it away,” Dowden said.

He didn't, and inside he he found his stimulus money in the form of a prepaid debit card. A slip included in the envelope explained the card was sent from the government in place of a paper check and contains his money from the CARES Act.

“I mean, it looked legit but with no previous notice about what they were gonna do, it left me with a lot of questions,” he said. “Even after they said it was okay, I still think it's a strange way of doing things."

People have the option to use the cards or transfer the money into their bank account.

Antonia Montana received her card Tuesday. She spent a day and a half on the phone trying to get the money into her bank account. As of Thursday night she still hasn't seen it show up.

Montana said she wouldn't be having these issues if the government had sent her a check.

“It should've been clear cut, upfront -- told me this is what you'll maybe be getting. And nothing,” she said.

Montana and Dowden said they expected more transparency from the government during a time when scammers are out in full-force.

“But everything was suspect. And with all the mail fraud, it’s so hard to understand what’s real and what’s not,” Montana said.

“There’s been too many scams coming about these days, so you just have to be careful,” Dowden said.

An example of why the IRS wouldn’t have direct deposit information is if you owed the government money over the last two years.

If you do get a card in the mail, there are instructions included about how to activate and use it.

For more information about the pre-paid cards, head to the

.