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Don't throw that money away

If you unexpectedly get a strange-looking Visa debit card in the mail, don’t chuck it in the trash or you’ll be throwing away money.

It’s more than likely your coronavirus relief payment from the federal government. The cards are being sent out to some taxpayers instead of checks or direct deposit.

Local residents are mystified as to why they’re receiving the debit cards.

“Normally I just take something like that and rip it up,” said Medford resident Craig Applen.

After he saw the official U.S. Treasury Department seal, Applen examined the card closer.

He discovered it was worth $1,200 for him and his wife. A single taxpayer would receive $600.

The money will be used to help pay for a remodeling project for an older house, but Applen, who has already activated the card, would have preferred to put the money directly into his bank account.

“We got a check last year,” he said, referring to the first round of stimulus money.

Applen said he was surprised the government decided to issue a debit card this time around.

“My major concern on this is that there was no notification in any news media about this happening,” he said.

Most taxpayers received their economic impact payments through direct deposit into their accounts.

For various reasons, such as changing banks, the federal government doesn’t have the direct deposit information on file for many taxpayers such as Applen.

During the first wave of relief payments this year, the IRS, or technically the Bureau of Fiscal Services, part of the Treasury Department, sent out four million debit cards and anticipates sending out another eight million in the second round of payments.

The IRS and Treasury Department decided to send out the debit cards because it was a way of getting the money to taxpayers more quickly than by check.

Before you use the card, you need to activate it by calling 1-800-240-8100.

The Visa debit cards can be used to make purchases online or in stores, and you can get cash from domestic in-network ATMs or transfer funds to a personal bank account, according to the IRS.

The cards are being sent in a white envelope with the U.S. Department of Treasury seal.

The card has the Visa name on the front and the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A., on the back. Each mailing includes instructions on activation and use of the card.

For more information, go to EIPcard.com.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

Susan Tompor/Detroit Free Press/TNS