Cherie Ward considered tossing the envelope into the trash.

It would have been the most valuable piece of garbage in the sack.

The piece of mail that arrived Saturday, Jan. 9, actually contained a Visa card that was preloaded with the federal pandemic stimulus payment to Cherie and her husband, Bob, who live in Baker City.

Cherie Ward said her initial thought was that the envelope contained a credit card offer.

“The kind you get all the time and that you throw away,” she said.

But she was intrigued by the phrase “Economic Impact Payment,” which was printed in two places.

Ward said she read the letter inside but was still skeptical, considering the prevalence of credible-looking scams.

For one thing, she said the couple’s first federal payment last spring was a direct deposit to their bank account.

“To get a Visa card in the mail is strange,” Ward said.

Only after consulting the AARP website and calling her bank was Ward satisfied that the mail was legitimate. She and her husband called to activate the card.

Ward emailed the Herald Monday morning because she was concerned other residents would receive the same envelope and throw it away.

According to the IRS, the debit cards are intended to speed payments to Americans. Some people who received a check or a direct deposit this spring got the card this time.

In all, the IRS said it will mail about 8 million debit cards this month. People who don’t receive a check or a direct deposit should watch their mail carefully for an envelope containing the card.

Unlike the cards mailed last spring, these envelopes include the Treasury Department seal.

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