Some people accidentally threw away stimulus envelopes
John Sowell, Idaho Statesman
Published at | Updated at
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) – A story in Friday’s print edition of the Idaho Statesman led Boise resident Floyd Ingraham to go dumpster diving.
The front-page story told readers not to throw out a piece of mail bearing a U.S. Treasury Department seal, because it contained a debit card containing a $600 stimulus payment. For Ingraham and his wife, Claribel, the warning came too late.
“After reading that, we ran out to the curb because it was trash day,” Ingraham said by phone. “I stood on my head and fished the Treasury Department envelope out of the waste.”
Luckily for Ingraham, the envelope had been thrown into the family’s recycling cart and not the food waste bin.
“I had looked over the envelope and decided it was one of the better come-ons I had ever seen, but I thought it was fake.”
Boise resident Emma Cruse wasn’t as fortunate. She discarded the envelope and wasn’t able to retrieve it.
“I thought it was a scam,” she said by phone. “I threw it away.”
Rodney Shown of Boise thought it was a credit card offer he didn’t want.
“The next thing we knew it was the stimulus payment,” he said by phone.
Kruse and Shown wondered how they could get replacement cards. That’s not clear.
The Statesman reached out Thursday and Friday to the Treasury Department by email after Boise resident Ralph Fullerton wrote to ask what to do with a stimulus card he received but wasn’t entitled to. The Treasury Department did not reply. A call Friday to the agency’s media line went to voicemail and asked reporters to contact the department by email.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office, which issued a press release Wednesday confirming the cards were legitimate, after receiving several inquiries. The office received more than 50 calls this week on the issue, spokesperson Scott Graf said by email.
“That’s a large number on the same issue in such a short window,” he wrote.
Fullerton and his wife, Rebecca, received a $1,200 stimulus payment direct-deposited into their bank account on Jan. 1. Then, a few days ago, a stimulus card arrived in the mail.
Fullerton said he wasn’t sure what to do with the card. Since the couple already received the amount they were entitled to, they didn’t want to activate the card. But they weren’t sure whether the card needed to be returned, shredded and thrown away.
“There’s been an error somewhere along the line, and we need to know how to resolve it,” Fullerton said.
The Treasury Department said it sent out 8 million debit cards loaded with stimulus payments. It’s not clear how the agency chose who received the cards. It wasn’t just people who were mailed checks during the first round. Ingraham said he and his wife received a deposit into their bank account for the first round. They had thought they would receive the $1,200 the same way.
Recipients can use the cards like any other debit card to make purchases or withdraw cash.
As of Friday, Ingraham said he hadn’t received a card — the card that arrived at the couple’s home was addressed to Claribel Ingraham — or a bank deposit. Although the automated system to activate the debit card didn’t recognize Clara Ingraham’s Social Security number, the couple was able to get their bank to retrieve the money from Treasury and add it to their bank account.