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Go through your mail more carefully these days, or you could be throwing stimulus money away

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 21:01:18-04

Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at contact7@thedenverchannel.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.

DENVER – You might want to go through your mail more carefully these days. That's because many people are throwing away their stimulus payment debit cards that the IRS is now issuing to help people financially affected by the novel coronavirus.

Some of those people are now reaching out to Contact7 for help.

Katharine Mason received a nondescript white envelope in the mail last week with a debit card inside.

“It had all these starts and looked kind of cheesy,” she remembers. “It looked like a credit card offer, and at our house, we shred credit card offers.”

But she soon learned her shredded plastic card was actually her economic impact payment.

“Oh my goodness! I was distraught,” she said.

Across the country and in Colorado, people mistakenly thought their EIP cards were junk mail – or worse.

“I still don’t know if it’s a scam,” said Mark Hayes, who was just about to put his in the recycle bin, when he called Contact7, concerned about the fees listed on the letter. “It seems to me there’s a lot of money being skimmed off of this card. I think this was very poorly deployed.”

RELATED: It's not a scam, stimulus debit cards are being mailed to U.S. citizens across the country

The questions and confusion may be why the IRS released a statement last week describing the “plain” envelopes and the card inside. The letter doesn’t come from the IRS; it says “Money Network Cardholder Services.” If it doesn’t say MetaBank, it’s not official. The card also says “VISA” on the front.

In an email to Contact7, an IRS spokeswoman stated individuals can now get a free replacement card for the first debit card lost or destroyed.

“Any initial reissuance fee charged to a customer from an earlier date will be reversed,” the statement read. “Individuals do not need to know their card number to request a replacement.”

You can request a placement by phone at 1-800-240-8100 (option 2 from main menu).

“I called Channel 7, and Channel 7 is the only place that responded to me right away,” said Mason, who finally got through to the IRS after three days of trying. “A replacement is on its way to me. It’s just so scary and frustrating because just like everybody else, we need the money. It just seems so haphazard. It doesn’t seem like people were walking through the process to consider what this was going to be like.”