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Didn’t get your stimulus money? What to do if your COVID-19 check went to the wrong account

Have you received your stimulus check yet? If not, you’re not alone. According to the IRS, millions of Americans should have already received their payments via direct deposit, but many people are reporting unusual glitches and hiccups preventing them from claiming their money.

The majority of complaints are centered around the IRS’ new tracking tool “Get My Payment,” which worked for some folks while kicking others to the curb with vague error messages and 24-hour timeouts. Tap or click here to find out more about tracking your payment with this IRS tool.

To make matters worse, some of the folks who managed to get into the system found that their checks had been sent to the wrong bank account altogether! Here’s what we know about the tangled mess going on at the IRS, and what to expect if you get any unusual errors like these.

‘Smoothly and effectively’

People across America are starting to receive their stimulus payments via direct deposit into their bank accounts. These individuals typically have their bank information on file with the IRS already, and for them, the process of receiving payment went exactly as the federal government said it would.

On the other hand, the IRS’ new Get My Payment website experienced a bit of a rocky reception when it debuted on April 15. Although many taxpayers were able to successfully submit their direct deposit information or check the status of their stimulus, thousands of Americans experienced a host of unusual glitches that left them without their money.

In response to numerous complaints regarding problems with the Get My Payment tool, the IRS issued a blanket statement addressing the issues:

The Get My Payment site is operating smoothly and effectively. As of mid-day today, more than 6.2 million taxpayers have successfully received their payment status and almost 1.1 million taxpayers have successfully provided banking information, ensuring a direct deposit will be quickly sent. IRS is actively monitoring site volume; if site volume gets too high, users are sent to an online ‘waiting room’ for a brief wait until space becomes available, much like private sector online sites. Media reports saying the tool ‘crashed’ are inaccurate.”

Internal Revenue Service

As millions of people on social media can tell you, though, the stimulus experience has been anything but smooth and efficient.

After typing in identifying information, many taxpayers were greeted by an extremely vague alert that called into question whether or not they’re receiving a stimulus check in the first place.

The IRS states that this message will appear to you for the following reasons:

  • If you are not eligible for payment (see IRS.gov on who is eligible and who is not eligible)
  • If you are required to file a tax return and have not filed in tax year 2018 or 2019.
  • If you recently filed your return or provided information through Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info on IRS.gov. Your payment status will be updated when processing is completed.
  • If you are an SSA or RRB Form 1099 recipient, SSI or VA benefit recipient – the IRS is working with your agency to issue your payment; your information is not available in this app yet.

Unfortunately, these factors don’t seem to apply to the majority of people complaining about the problem. Social media users are speculating that common threads between people seeing this glitch are self-employment taxes or owing a balance at some point during 2018 or 2019, but this has yet to be officially confirmed by the IRS.

‘I’m sorry, was that yours?’

An even worse issue is affecting a handful of unlucky taxpayers. In multiple interviews with USA Today, users of the IRS portal described logging in and seeing a completely different bank account from their own listed under the deposit amount.

One IRS spokesperson claimed they hadn’t heard anything about stimulus checks being sent to the wrong accounts, and said they would look into the matter.

Meanwhile, taxpayers like Thomas Krapin of New York City feel like their stimulus hopes are dead in the water. After opening the Get My Payment website and confirming the amount of his stimulus check was correct, he “freaked out” upon seeing a bank account number that didn’t match his.

“Once I pressed submit, the account number that they listed didn’t match any of mine. I called my bank and there was nothing they could do. There was no connection to my account,” Krapin said.

If these issues weren’t bad enough, there isn’t too much recourse for confused taxpayers. Due to COVID-19, the IRS helpline is effectively closed, and the agency is currently staffed by only a fraction of its total workforce.

Will any of these taxpayers left out in the cold get their money?

Hope on the horizon

According to the IRS, these hiccups might not be all doom and gloom — even for the people who had their money sent to the wrong accounts.

IRS spokesperson Jodie Reynolds says that taxpayers with non-matching bank information should contact their banks and let them know about their situation. She also emphasized that if a check hits the wrong account and the names do not match, it will simply be returned to the IRS and re-cut in the form of a paper check.

Most likely, paper checks will also apply to folks who are unable to verify the status of their payment thanks to the generic error message mentioned above. Tap or click here to see the full eligibility requirements for a stimulus payment.

Based on social media discussion, it seems as if the majority of people receiving the Payment Status Unavailable message do not have direct deposit information on file with the IRS.

The government has pledged that anyone who is unable to provide this information (or cannot do so) will get a paper check mailed to the most recent address listed on their 2018 or 2019 tax return.

If you have moved since filing last, it’s in your best interest to contact the USPS and submit a formal mail forwarding request so you don’t miss your money. In addition, it may also be worth waiting a few days to a week to see if your payment status has been updated via the IRS portal.

The portal was initially slated to open on Friday, April 17, so these early growing pains may be more indicative of an overloaded website than an intentional denial of funds. We will be updating this story with more information as it becomes available.

In the meantime, be patient: Those checks in the mail are set to start mailing out within the next few weeks. If you’re eligible based on the IRS criteria, you’re likely to receive one regardless. It just might not be arriving as fast as we’d all like.

While you’re waiting, make sure you’re not fooled by any of the myriad stimulus check scams making the rounds in both digital form and physical checks in the mail. Some scammers are sending fake checks to taxpayers that look like a legitimate stimulus check, but are actually something else altogether — like an ad for a used car lot!

Tap or click here to find out what you need to know about stimulus check scams circulating right now.

Quite frankly, we should have expected a bumpy ride with a government-run website from the start. When’s the last time any of those worked properly? At least it’s not as bad as the situation surrounding unemployment applications. Tap or click here to find out why unemployment systems for several states are being run on computers from 1959!

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