Coronavirus News: 7 On Your Side tips for stimulus payment debit cards

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Stimulus payments have provided an economic lifeline for tens of millions of people, but many recipients have unknowingly thrown out their money.

Four million of envelopes were sent out last week to taxpayers who don't have a bank account on file with the IRS. 7 On Your side got an earful of complaints from confused recipients who thought the cards were junk mail.

Jo-Ann Ferraro showed 7 On Your Side the envelope that came in the mail. On the front, it said it came from "Money Network Card Services." Inside was a star-studded card with both her and her husband's name on it from "META Bank."

"I never heard of them before," Ferraro said. So she promptly cut it up.

On Staten Island, Elna Johnson's stimulus card was also headed for the garbage until she Googled it. The IRS says it sent out $220 billion to eligible taxpayers via direct deposit and paper checks, but only recently started sending the plastic.

"We were angry," Johnson said. "We never used a debit card and we don't use an ATM."

She went to their bank to get money from the card, but was taken aback by all the withdrawal fees, so they left with nothing.

"We were thinking we are not getting the full amount," Johnson said. "And whose brilliant idea was this, especially because we are seniors."

When Ferraro's daughter also got a stimulus card, she rescued their card two days later from the trash after reading it was $7.50 to replace a lost or stolen card and $17 to send a new one.

"I went through three bags, of course," Ferraro said. "Of course it was in the one with the wet salad."

Since you need the number on the card to transfer money to your bank account, she taped it back together and called the number on the back. The mother of two was then subjected to a battery of personal questions.

"I was so nervous, to give them that, I kept saying I'm not comfortable," Ferraro said. "The questions were really invasive, you had to give them his social, my social security."

Ferraro failed the test for not providing the type of car she owned in 1991.

Johnson however was able to transfer her money over the phone without ever speaking to a real person.

Monday is Johnson's birthday. She's 76 years young and learned how to do a Zoom call to confirm her money arrived.

The Big Takeaway:

There is no fee to transfer the money. It will take at least two business days to show up in your account. If you don't want to give personal information over the phone, and please don't because scammers could be all over this, you can register your card online, create an account and select money transfer.

Click here for FAQ's about the Stimulus Debit Card.

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