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Schumer seeks replacement fee waiver for stimulus debit card

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y.,

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Credit: AP/Patrick Semansky

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling on the Treasury Department to waive replacement fees for Americans who may have inadvertently discarded a federal stimulus payment that arrived in the form of a debit card.

Schumer, citing cases of Long Islanders who have mistakenly thrown out the debit cards believing they were junk mail, urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in a letter sent Monday to launch a “public awareness campaign” about the cards, noting that most recipients were expecting a check or direct deposit.

“I have been made aware of confusion and concerns from my constituents, particularly on Long Island, arising from the distribution of these Economic Impact Payment Cards,” Schumer said in the letter, adding that the “highly inconspicuous packaging of these cards, and the lack of Federal government insignia” may lead some to “accidentally discard their critical relief payments.”

Schumer’s letter came after Newsday reported that some Long Islanders have thrown away or destroyed the cards assuming they were credit card offers. The cards are being administered by the private firm MetaBank, which lists a $7.50 fee to replace the card and other fees for checking the card balance or using nonaffiliated ATMs to withdraw money.

The Treasury Department announced on May 18 that about 4 million Americans without bank account information on file with the Internal Revenue Service would receive a debit card instead of a check as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package known as the CARES Act that was passed by Congress in March. The department’s guidance noted that the cards would primarily be issued to taxpayers who had their taxes processed by IRS centers in Austin, Texas, and Andover, Massachusetts.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 stand to receive a $1,200 payment, with the amount of money gradually declining for higher-income earners.

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Schumer in his letter requested more information on the number of New Yorkers who received the debit card and what percentage of those cards have been activated.

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A Treasury Department spokeswoman said taxpayers who “lost or threw away” their cards can call 800-240-8100 for a free replacement. Callers are asked to select “option 2” from the main menu.

Some Long Islanders, in emails to Newsday, have reported issues with connecting to seek help even after following all of the call prompts. A Schumer aide said those who are having issues with replacing their card can call the senator’s Long Island field office at 631-753-0978 for further assistance. 

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