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 MnuchinOn The Money: Supreme Court upholds NY prosecutors' access to Trump's tax returns, rebuffs Congress | Trump complains of 'political prosecution' | Biden rebukes Trump, rolls out jobs plan Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous income Why Trump can't make up his mind on China MORE.

The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief law that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' 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 LewisCongresswoman accidentally tweets of death of Rep. John Lewis, who's still alive IRS, taxpayers face obstacles ahead of July 15 filing deadline We must move beyond 'the rank of a mere citizen' MORE (D-Ga.), the chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, and Democratic subcommittee members Reps. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban 116 House Democrats push for end to transgender military ban following Supreme Court ruling The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP on defense as nationwide protests continue MORE (Wash.), Linda Sánchez (Calif.), Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), Judy ChuJudy May ChuMinority caucuses call for quick action on police reform House Democrats press Treasury on debit cards used for coronavirus relief payments Democrats blast CDC report on minorities and COVID-19 MORE (Calif.), Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MooreBiden campaign adds staff in three battleground states On The Money: Dow plunges more than 1,800 points as rising COVID-19 cases roil Wall Street | Trump rips Fed after Powell warns of 'long road' to recovery Nursing homes under scrutiny after warnings of seized stimulus checks 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 NealSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Five takeaways from PPP loan data Trump administration releases PPP loan data 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.