Letter to the Editor: Stimulus checks gone awry

Last week I got a letter saying I hadn’t activated my Economic Impact Payment Card. The reason I had not activated my card was because I had not received one. I phoned the number on the letter and was informed, via the answering system, to Press 1 for a lost or stolen card. I pressed 1 and was told to enter my card number, which of course I could not do because I had not received a card. Hoping for another option I waited and after 4 requests I was told to “…call back after I had located my card number.” I called back several times to see if I was missing another option but I was not.

There was mention of going to IRS.gov so I tried that. I filled in all the required fields and at the end of the form I was informed the IRS needed to verify my identity. I was surprised but I persevered. I was asked to enter a credit card number, but not a Debit Card. I have an American Express credit card and a Visa debit card which I have used for more than a decade but for some reason the IRS does not accept either card! They do accept a home mortgage number, a student loan number, or a car loan number. I own my home, I own my vehicle, and I have no student loan, so I was unable to verify my identity.

This letter isn’t about me though. It’s about all the people who are renters, buy cheap cars, do not have student loans, and who don’t qualify for verification by the IRS! Why is the IRS set up like this? If one is poor, they do not qualify for a credit card, nor a mortgage, nor a car loan, but they usually qualify for a debit card, so why not accept that? And surely once you entered all your pertinent information into the IRS website shouldn’t that suffice for verification?

The Economic Impact Payments should be prioritized to reach those in most need. I’m talking need here and not just extra money in our bank accounts. If it is this difficult for me to get it imagine how hard it is for our fellow citizens living at or below the poverty level? It’s a vicious circle and the IRS provides no way out.

If we extrapolate these two experiences times the number of people living in poverty, we may well be in the tens of millions of people. Then, times those millions by $600, or $1400, and that’s a huge number the government is not paying to those who need it the most. Saving money off the backs of the poorest in the nation is reprehensible.

Finally, the reason I got involved in this ordeal was so I could donate my stimulus money to a person I know who could really use it. I never got the original $1200 check, and I don’t need an extra $600, but they sure could have used it. I’ve written a letter to the return address on the letter I received telling me I hadn’t activated my card, and we’ll see if that even gets a response. I won’t hold my breath.

Peter Skeels
Lake Almanor