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Unexpected debit card? Could be a scam or a stimulus check

Woman receives unemployment card, but never filed for it
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Posted at 1:54 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 19:38:20-05

CINCINNATI — As if we didn't have enough to worry about these days with politics and the pandemic, now some people are receiving strange debit cards in the mail.

And what makes it even worse, it could be either a scam, or your stimulus check.

Evelyn Schott opened her mailbox the other day to find an unexpected delivery to her Clifton home in Cincinnati.

It was a US Bank ReliaCard, the card that more than a dozen states use for unemployment benefits, including Ohio.

"At first I thought it was my regular ATM card, but when I saw it said ReliaCard I got a little nervous."

That's because Schott has a job and never filed for unemployment.

So she called the number on the card, where she says "they took my information, they also suggested I file a police report."

US Bank tells us it is aware of this fraud, which can happen if a thief files for unemployment under your name and Social Security Number (stolen from a data breach) to collect benefits.

Then all they have to do is change your address to begin collecting weekly payments.

Scammers could use other debit card programs

But US Bank is just one debit card to watch for.

Many states use Bank of America debit cards. Still others use Key Bank cards. And some states use their own private cards.

So be suspicious of any debit card showing up that you were not expecting.

So what should you do if an unexpected debit card arrives in the mail with your name on it?

The Federal Trade Commission says don't simply cut it up or toss it away. Someone may be collecting benefits in your name, or the card may be legitimate.

What you can do

The FTC says:

  • Report the unwanted card to the bank.
  • Contact the state unemployment office.
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

But wait! It could be your stimulus check

But making this even more confusing is that an unexpected debit card could be legitimate, and could contain money for you.

If you receive a debit card from MetaBank, with a note from the US Treasury Department, that is not a scam.

That could be your $600 stimulus check. So don't throw it away. Some people are cutting up the card, thinking it is fraudulent.

Evelyn Schott says it's all very confusing. "There is not a whole lot of help," she said.

So don't ignore an unexpected debit card, so you don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money

8:47 PM, Oct 17, 2018

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