Have you recently received a NetSpend prepaid debit card in the mail even though you never signed up for one?
You’re not alone. Many people across the U.S. have reported getting these cards out of the blue, leaving them wondering why they keep appearing in their mailboxes.
While it may seem strange, there are a few legitimate reasons you may be receiving unsolicited NetSpend cards.
Read on to find out why and what you should do if you get one.
Government Stimulus Payments
One of the main reasons people have been getting mystery NetSpend cards is because of government stimulus payments issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IRS has sent out millions of Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks) over the past few years. For those whose banking information is not on file or whose accounts are now closed, the Treasury Department issues pre-loaded debit cards instead of paper checks.
These Visa debit cards are issued by MetaBank but serviced by NetSpend. They arrive in plain white envelopes from the Treasury Department. So if you get one, it’s likely your stimulus money, not junk mail or a scam.
You can use the card just like any other prepaid debit card to make purchases, get cash back, or withdraw money from ATMs. Just be sure to activate it first and know the fees involved so you avoid any surprises.
Some states distribute unemployment benefits through prepaid debit cards as well. These are usually branded cards specific to that state’s unemployment program.
However, during the pandemic, certain states switched to issuing NetSpend Visa cards loaded with unemployment funds due to the sudden influx of claims.
So if you’ve been receiving unemployment and recently got a NetSpend card, that is likely your new method of payment. Check with your state’s labor department to confirm.
Social Security Payments
The government has also issued NetSpend debit cards loaded with federal benefit payments like Social Security funds.
If you normally receive Social Security through direct deposit, a prepaid card may have been sent if the bank rejected the deposit or your account is closed.
These cards are a way for the government to get your benefits to you quickly when direct deposit isn’t an option. Activate it so you can access your money.
Refunds from Companies
Some businesses issue prepaid Visa cards loaded with refunds instead of sending paper checks. This allows them to refund customers quickly without hassling with printing and mailing checks.
If you recently got a refund from an online retailer or service provider, the NetSpend card could be their method of sending your money back. Check the company’s website or call their customer service to confirm.
Prospecting and Activation Requests
NetSpend also sends out unsolicited card offers to prospects as a way to market their services. They obtain mailing lists of potential customers and send cards hoping recipients will activate them.
The cards may come in generic envelopes marked “important information enclosed” or other vague wording. These deactivated cards are essentially just ads to get you to sign up.
You can safely discard unwanted solicitations or letters saying you’ve been “pre-approved.” Don’t activate any cards you didn’t request to avoid being charged fees.
What To Do If You Get an Unsolicited NetSpend Card
If you receive a NetSpend card out of the blue, don’t just throw it away thinking it’s junk mail.
Firstly, carefully inspect the envelope and card to see if it mentions stimulus funds, unemployment, or a company name. This can provide clues on where it came from. Check the card balance by calling the number on the back to verify funds are loaded. This is key to determining if it’s a solicitation or contains money owed to you.
Secondly, call NetSpend’s customer service line and ask why the card was mailed. They can look up your account and explain the source. If it’s an activation request, discard it if you’re not interested in their services. Shred the card to protect your info. If you’re expecting stimulus money or unemployment, activate the card to access those funds.
Just make sure not to provide personal info if you believe it’s a fraudulent card. Report it to the proper authorities.
While mystery prepaid cards can be confusing, a little sleuthing on your part can determine if it’s legit or not. In most cases, they are entirely valid and simply provide an easy way to get money owed to you.
Just be sure to take precautions to avoid fees or the use of inactive solicitation cards. With a bit of caution, you can take advantage of the convenience they offer.
Common Fees and Usage of NetSpend Cards
If you determine the NetSpend card you received in the mail is loaded with funds owed to you, using it wisely can save you money in fees.
Here are some tips:
- ATM withdrawals cost $2.50 per transaction, so get larger amounts less often. Also, use in-network ATMs to avoid surcharges.
- Point-of-sale purchases are free, so prefer swiping your card versus taking out cash.
- Check your balance online or via phone for free instead of paying $1 for ATM balance inquiries.
- Set up direct deposit and mobile alerts to better track balances and avoid overdrafts.
- Pay bills online with your card number to avoid the $1.50 fee for payments by phone.
- You can withdraw cashback for free when shopping at most retailers instead of hitting the ATM.
- Transfer money to your bank account for a $2 fee to access a majority of the funds without fees.
- Opt out of the $5.95 monthly fee by setting up a direct deposit of $500 or more per month.
Follow these tips and read all terms and policies carefully to maximize your use of any NetSpend card you receive. Being an informed user will help you take full advantage of the convenience while avoiding unnecessary costs.
Also read: Netspend Reload Locations
The Bottom Line
Receiving an unsolicited prepaid card in the mail can certainly be odd. However, in most cases, there’s a reasonable explanation behind it. Don’t immediately assume a mystery NetSpend card is fraudulent or junk mail.
Take a closer look and contact the company to find out why it was sent. More often than not, the card contains money owed to you or is simply a marketing piece seeking activation. By understanding where the card came from and taking appropriate precautions, you can put your concerns at ease.