As Americans begin receiving their stimulus checks from the federal government, a segment of the population might have to wait longer to receive theirs.
Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks says that some African Americans will get their stimulus checks at a later date due to being “unbanked.” The term refers to someone who does not have a bank account.
Stimulus checks are currently being direct deposited into bank accounts using information from tax returns. Those who don’t have a bank account to direct deposit money to will get their stimulus check by mail, which could take several weeks.
“We have too many people of color who are underbanked or unbanked in our community,” Meeks said during a recent interview. “They will be the last ones to receive the $1,200 that they desperately need. Unless you have a bank account, where the check can be directly deposited into the bank, you have to wait another four to six weeks before the paper checks will get into the mail and get mailed to your home.”
Meeks said he’s trying to figure out a way to create debit cards where the stimulus check could be directly deposited onto the card so that there’s no wait for the paper check.
“When they get the paper check, they don’t have to go to the check cashing place who will charge a fee to cash the check, taking away some of the much-needed money from those that need it the most and don’t have,” Meeks stated.
The Congressman said he plans to write letters and talk to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to see if the debit cards could happen. Black billionaire Robert Smith, CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, is also being tapped to help out with the idea.
Meanwhile, State Attorney General Letitia James issued official guidance to New York State banking institutions, creditors and debt collectors, making clear that financial relief provided through stimulus payments are exempt from garnishment under New York law.
James’ guidance is based on multiple state and federal consumer protection laws and clarifies that any attempt to garnish stimulus funds from New Yorkers will be treated as a violation of the laws.
“As the coronavirus crisis continues to wreak havoc on our society, I will do everything in my power to protect the wallets of every New Yorker,” said James. “Today, we are taking concrete action to ensure debt collectors keep their hands off New Yorkers’ stimulus payments. This official guidance makes clear that banks and debt collectors cannot freeze or seize stimulus funds that are on their way to New York families, and any institution that violates this guidance will face swift legal action from my office.”
Meanwhile, many Americans say they still have not received their stimuli check in any form and an IRS website isn’t giving them any answers. Reports indicate that there are several reasons for delays including the IRS not having direct deposit information on file to issues with identity verification.
The U.S. Department of Treasury and the IRS announced on Monday that significant enhancements to the “Get My Payment” app will deliver an improved experience for Americans eligible to receive Economic Impact Payments.
“Treasury and the IRS have made substantial enhancements to the ‘Get My Payment’ app to ensure more Americans can get their money fast and track its delivery,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “This administration has already delivered over 88 million payments in less than three weeks, with millions more on their way. We encourage people who still need to input their information or want to track their payment to use the app.”