June 24, 2020

Warren Joins Colleagues in Calling for Answers Over Fees, Difficulties With Stimulus Payments Issued as Debit Cards

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) in calling for answers from the Treasury department about ongoing difficulties facing Americans who received their CARES Act stimulus payments as debit cards. 

The Treasury Department did not alert Americans who would receive their payment through a debit card, and many Americans missed or threw out the debit cards because they looked like a scam. Now, these individuals can face fees to get the card replaced quickly. 

"We are seriously concerned about imposing these fees on individuals who urgently need the direct cash assistance to which they are entitled under the CARES Act," the Senators wrote.

Individuals may also incur fees when they try to access their payments or check the card balance, as well as difficulties transferring funds from the card to a bank account. "These burdens are all the more concerning given that these individuals did not request a prepaid debit card and are unable to request a preferred method of receiving their stimulus payment with the IRS," wrote the Senators.

In their letter, the Senators shared concerns about individuals needing to submit personal information in order to use the cards, and whether this information can be shared with third parties for commercial purposes. The Senators are calling for answers on how Americans were chosen to receive debit cards instead of paper checks, fees associated with the cards, and the potential use of individuals' personal information.

Along with Senators Warren, Hassan, Brown, and Reed, the letter was signed by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai'i), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

In April, Senator Warren partnered with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to urge Congress to provide comprehensive consumer relief for all Americans in the next coronavirus package. She called on the Trump administration to ensure taxpayers quickly receive stimulus checks regardless of their banking status. She also joined her colleagues in demanding the Trump administration provide automatic access to the EIP, without filing a tax return, for recipients of Social Security benefits, Veterans Affairs benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, and Supplemental Security Income. She partnered with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to call on banks to end the seizure of stimulus checks.