coronavirus stimulus pre-paid debit card

Some taxpayers are getting their coronavirus stimulus in a pre-paid debit card that carries fees and limitations. (Photo via MetaBank)

The Iowa Attorney General’s office said Tuesday that after discussions with the U.S. Treasury Department, the federal agency has resolved several problems with the pre-paid debit cards it used to distribute coronavirus stimulus payments.

The federal government is using Economic Impact Payment (EIP) cards from MetaBank to distribute coronavirus relief payments of up to $1,200 per person.  The debit cards have been sent to about 4 million Americans in the past few weeks and nearly all of the cards have been mailed out.

About 200 Iowans contacted the attorney general’s office with questions and concerns about the cards, including potential fraud, customer service, access, fees and other problems. Many people threw the cards away, believing they were a credit-card solicitation or a scam.

“While we appreciate that prepaid debit cards are secure, we are concerned that this confusion could be exploited by scammers and result in financial harm to those an Economic Impact Payment was intended to help,” Attorney General Tom Miller said in a news release. “We’re pleased that the U.S. Treasury is addressing our concerns.”

The Treasury announced last week that it was waiving the $7.50 replacement fee for the Economic Impact Payment debit cards but consumers were having problems accessing assistance to replace lost or discarded cards. Now, Miller’s office reports that the phone system has been changed so people can reach a live customer service representative.

Replace a lost card: Consumers should call 800-240-8100, press “2” when prompted for a lost or stolen card, and enter the last six digits of their Social Security number.

The Treasury also said it has:

  • Increased the daily limit for cash withdrawals from $1,000 to $2,500, which should cover most consumers;
  • Allowed recipients to transfer all of the money from their EIP card to a bank account for free;
  • Verified that cards issued with an incorrect last name (such as a spouse’s name) are still valid.

The Treasury officials said they will work with MetaBank to update the EPIcard.com website to address the above issues. They also promised to answer any further questions from attorneys general in a timely manner, Miller’s office said.

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and other members of the House Financial Services sent a letter last week asking the Treasury Department to waive other fees associated with the card. One of those fees is a $2 charge after the first transaction at any ATM that is not part of a preferred network. In Iowa, the in-network ATMs are all in the Des Moines metro area. So far, the Treasury has not announced any changes related to ATM fees.

To get help 

See www.eipcard.com  or call 800-240-8100.

See the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s blog post on the cards.

Contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division:

Hoover State Office Building

1305 E. Walnut Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0106

Email: consumer@ag.iowa.gov

Phone: 515-281-5926 or 888-777-4590 (outside of the Des Moines metro area)

Website: IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov