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House Democrats press Treasury on debit cards used for coronavirus relief payments

House Democrats press Treasury on debit cards used for coronavirus relief payments
© Greg Nash

Democratic lawmakers on a key House subcommittee are pressing the Treasury Department about the prepaid debit cards being used to deliver coronavirus relief payments to millions of Americans, saying that some taxpayers are concerned the cards are a scam.

"Recent reports indicate the cards are creating confusion and actually may delay when Americans receive this emergency assistance," the Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight subcommittee wrote Thursday in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBiden's Treasury pick will have lengthy to-do list on taxes On The Money: Initial jobless claims rise for 2nd week | Dow dips below 30K | Mnuchin draws fire for COVID-19 relief move | Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach MORE.

The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief law that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE signed in late March provides most households with one-time direct payments. Individuals making up to $75,000 and married couples making up to $150,000 are eligible for the full amount of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.

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Treasury said earlier this month that about 4 million households will receive their relief payments by prepaid debit cards, rather than by paper check, in an effort to get people their money quickly.

The Democratic lawmakers said that recent news reports have indicated that some people think the cards are a scam. The cards are coming in a plain white envelope from Money Network Cardholder Services, and the envelopes and cards do not mention Treasury. Additionally, the activation telephone lines for the cards require the recipient to enter a portion of his or her Social Security number, the lawmakers said.

"When added together, these facts are leading many individuals to believe that the debit cards are junk mail or a scam," the lawmakers wrote. They added that this is concerning because taxpayers may be destroying their cards, "and it is unclear what recourse they will have subsequently to access their payments with or without additional fees."

The lawmakers asked Mnuchin for information about the number of debit cards that have been mailed and activated, the number of cards for which taxpayers have requested replacements and a schedule of fees associated with the cards.

The lawmakers who signed the letter were Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains Biden must look to executive action to fulfill vow to Black Americans The purposeful is political: Gen Z bowls over their doubters MORE (D-Ga.), the chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, and Democratic subcommittee members Reps. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneDemocratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief House Democrats run late ads defending vulnerable DCCC chair House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education MORE (Wash.), Linda Sánchez (Calif.), Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), Judy ChuJudy May ChuDemocratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief DHS opens probe into allegations at Georgia ICE facility Hispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 MORE (Calif.), Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MooreDemocrats accuse Kushner of 'casual racism' over comments about Black Americans Lawmakers urge IRS to get stimulus payments to domestic violence survivors Texas Democrat: US natural gas vital in transition to renewables MORE (Wis.), and Brendan Boyle (Pa.).

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Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley on Friday tweeted that people who lost or threw away their economic impact payment (EIP) debit cards can call 1-800-240-8100 to get a free replacement. 

Separately, Lewis and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOvernight Health Care: Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices | Sturgis rally blamed for COVID-19 spread in Minnesota | Stanford faculty condemn Scott Atlas Trump announces two moves aimed at lowering drug prices IRS races to get remaining stimulus checks to low-income households MORE (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking for weekly reports about the coronavirus relief payments until all of the payments have been issued.

Updated Friday at 12:21 p.m.