As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change our lives in unprecedented ways, more and more consumers seek secure, reliable solutions for making purchases in-person, online or over the phone. For the millions of Americans who receive government payments, including emergency relief funds from the U.S. government, one such solution is Government Payment Cards, or prepaid Visa debit cards.
What are Economic Impact Payment cards, and how do they work?
Recently, nearly 4 million prepaid Visa debit cards were mailed to eligible Americans as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). These prepaid Visa debit cards are pre-loaded with Economic Impact Payment (EIP) funds and are sent in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.”
EIP cards offer a fast, convenient, safe way for Americans to receive government and emergency relief benefits. These prepaid cards look and work like traditional debit cards; however, these cards arrive preloaded with funds and are not linked to a bank account.
Using an EIP card is quick, easy and secure. It can be used to:
• Pay for purchases online, in-person or over the phone everywhere Visa is accepted;
• Pay many bills and get cash back at participating merchants;
• Withdraw cash from an ATM or a bank/credit union teller
• Transfer funds to a personal bank account
How to get started
The first step when you receive your EIP card is to activate it by calling: 1-800-240-8100.
During activation, you will be asked to validate your identity by providing, at minimum, your name, address, and last 6-digits of your social security number. You will also be asked to create a 4-digit PIN required for ATM transactions and automated assistance and to hear your balance. For your Account security, do not use personal information as your PIN. For Cards with more than one name, only the primary Cardholder (listed first on the Card) may activate the Card.
Keep your PIN number handy for automated telephone assistance and secure future transactions. For example, when withdrawing cash from an ATM – preferably an in-network, surcharge free ATM that carries the AllPoint® brand – enter your 4-digit PIN and select “Withdraw” from “Checking”.
Discarded or destroyed cards
If your EIP card was accidentally discarded or destroyed, you can call the customer cervice number at: 1-800-240-8100 and report it “Lost/Stolen”. Your EIP Card will be deactivated to prevent anyone from using it and a new replacement card will be ordered. You do not need to know your card number and your first reissued EIP card is free. Any additional reissued cards are subject to a replacement fee, so review the Fee Schedule and Cardholder Agreement at EIPCard.com for more information.
How to keep your card safe and secure
It is important to know that the IRS, MetaBank, Money Network and Visa, like other financial institutions, do not contact cardholders directly requesting their personal account information. That said, cybercriminals and fraudsters are constantly counting on individuals to be distracted and let their guard down. If successful, they can trick people into handing over personal or financial information using a tactic they call phishing.
Here are some common forms of phishing that one may encounter and warning signs to look out for:
Phone call phishing
• Consumers should look out for a phone call from “your credit card company” or “financial institution,” the caller will typically identify themselves as some who works in the “Security and Fraud Department.”
• They will note that your card has been flagged for suspicious transactions and will ask for you to prove that the card is in your possession. You may then be asked to provide the three-digit security code on the back of your payment card, your pin, or a verification code that was just sent to you.
• Be on the lookout for spelling and grammar errors in the subject line or body of the email. It also may be a warning sign if the email does not address you by name or if the email address does not match the organization (e.g., irs.net).
• Scammers will also sometimes include deadlines or threaten account suspension to add urgency and override your normal sense of caution. If the sender does not provide contact information, or if something feels suspicious (e.g., asking you to click a hyperlink) please contact the card issuer at 1-800-240-8100.
Text message phishing
• Be aware if the sender sends a link rather than a phone number to call. Scammers may also ask that you log onto your account to verify a transaction by providing your pin or three-digit CVV code.
• It may also be a red flag if there is something slightly off about the website or the address or if there are misspelled words or odd logos.
• Look out for unusual pop-ups on the site that request you enter personal account information. Also be wary of HTML links that do not match their destination.
• If you are unsure about a link, you should manually enter the full website URL or address into your browser instead of clicking on a link provided to you.
Social media phishing
• Warning signs include friend requests from someone you do not know, or a post asking you to click on a link and provide personal information.
For more information on Economic Impact Payments, visit EIPcard.com.