Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds.
Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
ExpertiseContent strategy, team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Samsung, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
We'll explain all the information you need to gather to find or claim your missing payment -- including three options to help track (and even trace) your stimulus money now, how to match your stimulus estimate to what you actually receive and how claiming a stimulus check credit could make your late payment come even slower to arrive. Yes, this includes any makeup payments for missing kids plus any money from your first check that you didn't get. (And here's what to know about a third stimulus check, including how quickly the new payment might come and how much money you might get.) This story was recently updated.
Start by tracking your stimulus check or EIP card. It could possibly still arrive in the mail this week
The IRS and Treasury sent paper checks at a much faster clip this time than last, but it isn't clear how many remain undelivered. Since the USPS may need a few days to sort and deliver your physical check or EIP card if the IRS sent it out before the Jan. 15 deadline it may be possible you'll receive it in the next few days.
Watch this: Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know
Direct deposit: What to know about where your payment is now
The IRS and Treasury said they have sent over 100 million stimulus payments through direct deposit this time around, a payment method that allows the agency to process many more payments faster. However, the IRS' tracking tool didn't let people sign up for or change their direct deposit information this time around. And some people reported problems with checks being sent to the wrong bank account, which means millions haven't been able to receive their stimulus payments that way.
If the IRS didn't already have your banking information, you have no choice but to wait for the mail. If there's a problem with your payment, you'll need to file a claim during tax time (more below.) If you didn't get your second stimulus check this way, but want to receive a future third stimulus check through direct deposit, you'll want to register with the IRS on your 2020 tax return.
It's possible you'll need to request a payment trace with the IRS
Another way to track your missing stimulus check is through a payment trace. This gets a bit complicated, but we have a guide to walk you through the IRS payment trace process. There are several scenarios that may apply to you, but it boils down to the IRS saying it sent a stimulus check you never received.
The IRS won't begin processing your missing payment until Feb. 12 -- at the soonest
Here's the bad news. If you're missing all or part of what the IRS owes you with your first or second stimulus check, there's no way around waiting until at least the middle of February to see your check. Feb. 12 is the IRS' first day of opening up tax filing, so you'll have to wait. You can, however, begin to prepare now, buy learning what you need to know and gathering your necessary documents. That applies as well to people who aren't normally required to file taxes.
If you wait to file taxes, it'll take longer to get your stimulus money
Now that we are past the cutoff, the timing of your stimulus check delivery is now inextricably linked to your taxes. Feb. 12 is the first day you can file your taxes, including the Recovery Rebate Credit to get your errant second stimulus payment. But you'll have until April 15 to file taxes and some people may request a tax extension beyond that.
How soon you submit your taxes for 2020 could have a direct effect on how quickly the IRS is able to process your return. People who file their returns in February would likely receive their stimulus check credit months before people who wait until the April 15 deadline or later.
If you moved recently, you need to tell the IRS and USPS
If you've recently moved, be sure to tell the IRS and USPS so you can get any stimulus money owed to you (and a third stimulus check, too). You also need your updated address on file so you can receive your confirmation letter from the IRS (you'll need this if you have to file a claim.)
The IRS doesn't want you to call if you have an issue
Sorry, it's true. In May 2020, the IRS hired 3,500 telephone operators to help field incoming calls about the first stimulus check. Now its website implores you not to call.
"Please do not call the IRS about the new payment; our phone assistors do not have additional information beyond what's available here on IRS.gov and in the Get My Payment application," the IRS website says.
For more information, here are the most important stimulus check details to know, here's how a third stimulus check might happen, all the ways it could bring you more money and how to calculate your share of a $2,000 check.