Iowa AARP says to be on the lookout for stimulus card scams

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 4:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The U.S. Treasury Department is mailing about 4 million stimulus payments on debit cards. Up until now, funds were either deposited into a bank account or sent as a physical check. KCRG-TV9′s Jay Greene talked to the Iowa AARP about using the cards and avoiding scams.

Jay: Brad Anderson with the Iowa AARP office joins us now. Thanks for being with us. We’ve gotten a lot of calls into our newsroom about what exactly these stimulus cards that people might be getting in the mail. What should they be on the lookout for?

Brad: They should be on the lookout for a plain, white envelope that says money network cardholder services, so it’s kind of benign in a lot of ways which makes a lot of people are just kinda throwing them away. So, be sure not to throw away this envelope. The other thing to look for on the card itself, it’s got VISA on the front and Metbank written on the back. And there’s a note attached to the card that describes exactly what it is which is an economic impact payment.

Jay: How do people use this?

Brad: So it’s used just like a debit card. You can go to an ATM, for example, and use it. You can pay in grocery stores, you can pay in gas stations, just like you would a VISA debit card. But you should be aware, there are fees. So, if you go to an ATM out-of-network, which, unfortunately, the only debit ATM machines in-network are in the Des Moines area, so all of the other machines are out of network. Which then, there is I believe a $2-3 fee attached to that. Then, if you lose a card, or accidentally throw it away, there a $7.50 fee to replace that card. So, again, be sure not to throw it away, but you can use it just like a VISA card. You can get cash, you can make purchases in stores, just like you would a VISA debit card.

Jay: Are there spending limits?

Brad: You will need to check how much is on the card, so you can do that via the telephone number on the card, you can call, or you can put it in a machine and get your balance, or you can go online. There’s also a website that you can go onto to check your balance, so be sure to check your balance, but I believe the limit is $1,000 dollars a day in terms of what you can actually spend. There are also ways to get the full payment if you want to receive cash directly.

Jay: A lot of people are worried they might get a scam card in the mail or they might get an email inviting them to get a card? What should they be on the lookout for?

Brad: There are scams happening as we speak. If you get an unsolicited phone call, an unsolicited email, an unsolicited text message. Do not answer it. Do not reply to that, because the IRS, social security, and VISA will never call you. They’ll never text you, they’ll never email. So, don’t give into that unsolicited request for information. Number 2 is you’ll be asked to give or to create a PIN number, a four-digit PIN number. Never, under any circumstances, do you give out that PIN number, and do not give out your social security number, obviously, or even the debit number on the front of the VISA card.

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