Man's $600 Stimulus Payment Disappears During Bank Transfer

A $600 federal stimulus payment issued as a prepaid debit card was reported to have vanished when a California resident attempted to transfer the payment to his bank account.

Phillip Franklin in San Diego is among many Americans who were issued an Economic Impact Payment Card for their stimulus payments. The cards come in an envelope without any official federal markings and are sent from Money Network, a cardholder services company.

Franklin told San Diego's NBC 7: "When it came in the mail, I wasn't sure what it was. I almost tossed it, but I looked to see what it was."

Cardholders have the option of transferring the money on the EIP Card to a bank account, which Franklin did back in mid-January.

"You put in the routing number, the account number and everything," Franklin said, adding: "It brings the card down to a zero balance and supposedly sends it to the bank."

But several days later, the stimulus payment had still not appeared in his bank account and Franklin contacted Money Network for help.

Franklin said the company told him: "Oh, your bank's got it probably, but they're not telling you," and to "check back in a few days. These things take time."

But Franklin's bank said it could find no evidence that the payment was sent to his account. After not seeing the money in his account by the end of January, Franklin filed a claim with Money Network.

"Within the next few days, I got a letter from them saying my claim was denied," Franklin noted. "They're not supposed to mess with this money. It's not theirs."

With no reasons stated for why his claim was denied, Money Network told Franklin he could fill out more forms to request an explanation.

"I thought: By the time I get that money, the virus will be over for sure and the world will be different," said Franklin, who contacted the office of California Rep. Scott Peters for help.

In a statement Tuesday to NBC 7, Peters noted that the Internal Revenue Service's Office of Legislative Affairs did not provide any updates on the transfer of funds to Franklin's bank account following "continued exchanges" with the office.

"After an additional inquiry was sent to the Bureau of Fiscal Service, they responded today by saying that one of their analysts was reviewing this case. These lapses could make a difference when paying rent or putting food on the table. My office will continue pushing to get answers," the statement added.

After receiving "dozens of complaints" from his constituents, Peters also sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on January 26 asking to know how many had received their stimulus by debit card, how many of the cards had been activated and how many were yet to be used, Peters noted.

"In addition, I asked the Treasury and IRS if it could put in place a way for people to return their debit cards and receive a paper check instead. We are also working with the Ways and Means Committee to ensure the IRS addresses these urgent and specific concerns," the statement said.

In a statement to NBC 7, Metabank, the company that owns Money Network, said: "Cardholders are typically able to find answers to their questions on EIPCard.com's extensive FAQ page or by contacting customer service at 1-800-240-8100. Due to cardholder privacy requirements, we have reached out directly to Mr. Franklin in order to resolve this matter as quickly as possible."

Franklin was reported to have received a call from Metabank less than a day after the company was contacted by NBC 7. The company apologized to Franklin, who said the $600 was back in his debit card account the following morning.

Newsweek has contacted the Office of Legislative Affairs at the IRS and the Treasury for comment.

All first and second-round stimulus payments that are "legally permitted" have been issued, the IRS confirmed on February 16.

Those still waiting for their payment can check the status of their payment on the IRS website.

U.S. stimulus check May 2008
Stimulus checks being prepared for printing in May 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A $600 stimulus payment issued in January as a prepaid debit card was reported to have vanished when a resident attempted to transfer the payment to his bank account. Jeff Fusco/Getty Images