If you’ve been patiently awaiting your stimulus payment, you might be troubled to realize that you accidentally threw it away. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you did. The $1,200 Economic Impact Payments that the federal government sent to millions of Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic arrived in a number of forms. Some people got direct deposit payments while others received paper checks in the mail. Still, others were sent prepaid debit cards loaded with the full stimulus amount. Because Americans often receive credit cards with their names already embossed on them as part of marketing campaigns, many recipients either destroyed or threw away these cards without realizing how valuable they were.
Here’s what to do if you made this common mistake.
Identifying your stimulus payment
If you are receiving your stimulus payment by mail, it could be coming in the form of either a check or a prepaid debit card. But even if the “Get My Payment” portal on the IRS website says you are receiving a check, it might still come as a prepaid debt card.
Should you be one of four million Americans receiving a prepaid card, it will arrive in a plain white envelope from the “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The envelope will not say it’s from the U.S. Treasury or any other government department. Additionally, the IRS will not be calling you about your payment. If you receive a call about it, it is a scam.
Inside the envelope, there will be a card that has the Visa debit logo at the top right corner and a background that looks like the blue field with white stars from the American flag. The back will say Money Network. This is your stimulus payment, not trash!
What to do if you threw it away?
If you’re reading this and realize that you did throw your payment away, you are not alone. So many people have already suffered this mix-up that the IRS has set up a solution. You just need to call 800-240-8100 to address the situation. You don’t need to know the number on the card in order to do this. Once you call, you’ll be able to set up a direct deposit if you wish.
What if your direct deposit went to a closed account?
If the IRS had your account information on hand, but the account has since closed, you will have to wait for a physical payment to come in the mail. The IRS will send the payment to the address they have on file for you, so make sure it’s up to date. You can file Form 8822 to update an incorrect address.
What if the IRS site is saying you received your payment, but it didn’t actually arrive?
The IRS requires you to wait a certain number of days before you start to track the missing payment. For direct deposits, you have to wait 5 days past the deposit date before requesting to track it. For mailed payments, you must wait at least 1 month. If you have a forwarding address, you have to wait 6 weeks. If you have a foreign address, you must wait 9 weeks.
Once this window is up, you can call 800-919-9835 or submit Form 3911 to request tracking for your payment. Like snail mail itself, this process will take a long time. Still, if you are eligible for a stimulus payment, then you are entitled to receive it, even if the bureaucracy of the IRS stands in the way. Don’t give up just yet! Millions of people are in the same boat.