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).
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Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
The IRS sent out another wave of third stimulus checks this week -- did you get yours? If not, there could be an issue holding up your $1,400 payment. Before you do anything, check the IRS tracker tool to see what it says. If it shows your stimulus check should've arrived days or even weeks ago, or it just doesn't arrive at all, there's likely a problem that needs to be addressed.
What to do: Brush up on the stimulus check requirements, including by calculating your stimulus check total. Then, compare this figure to what you actually receive. A new change this time around means that if your income is over the limit, you won't get a partial check -- no matter how many dependents you have.
Your stimulus payment went to the wrong bank account
The problem: You signed up for direct deposit, but your check didn't arrive. Why? It's possible that your stimulus payment went to the wrong bank account. Maybe your account was closed, or an electronic transfer attempt was made for a temporary bank account, like one used on behalf of millions of people who used a tax preparer like Jackson Hewitt, TurboTax and H&R Block. Although this latter issue hasn't been widely reported, it affected the first and second payments.
What to do: Reach out to your bank or tax preparer to see if an attempt was made to deposit money to your account. Ask if they have an internal protocol to file a report or follow up with a representative who can help.
Was your direct deposit account info entered when you filed your 2020 taxes?
The problem: You filed your 2020 taxes and signed up for direct deposit for the first time or corrected your banking information, but the IRS didn't transfer stimulus funds into your account by March 24.
Why? It may be that the IRS didn't process your tax return and information before it sent your third stimulus payment.
What now?Track your 2020 tax return to see what your status is. If your direct deposit doesn't trickle in a few days past the March 24 due date, you'll want to keep an eye on the mail for a paper check or EIP debit card. Also use the IRS check tracking tool to see when your stimulus payment is scheduled to send.
Watch this: Stimulus plus-up payments: What you need to know
The IRS has your wrong mailing address
Theproblem: You moved in 2020 and the IRS (and maybe USPS) doesn't know your new address. Or, you were receiving Social Security benefits on a Direct Express card (PDF), recently closed your account and the IRS doesn't have your correct address to reissue the payment as a paper check or EIP debit card.
Why it matters: If you got direct deposit but you need to claim additional stimulus make-up money later and you didn't get the confirmation letter the IRS sends to recipients, you'll have to jump through more hoops later on. Or, if you're waiting for your stimulus check in the mail, you might have to keep waiting, if there's an issue with forwarding. Similarly, if you closed a Direct Express account and the IRS doesn't have your current address, it won't know how to route your payment.
What next? If you think you're getting a mailed payment, let the IRS and USPS know ASAP what your new mailing address is. If your check won't be processed right away, you may have enough time. Otherwise, you may need to file for a catch-up payment later in 2021 or even a year from now during tax season in 2022.
USPS delays are preventing your check from arriving
The problem: The IRS is currently sending the third round of payments through electronic transfer and in the mail. But a delay in the postal service could cause some payments to lag.
What to do: Your best bet is to track your payment online with the IRS and sign up for Informed Delivery with the USPS. This free service scans your mail and lets you track when each envelope or package is delivered. Make sure you know what the paper check or EIP debit card looks like so you don't accidentally throw it away.
You're waiting for the rest of your third stimulus check money
The problem: You received a stimulus check, but the math doesn't seem to work out. Are you missing money? It might be that the IRS owes you more money based on your 2020 tax return (including your AGI) but paid you based on 2019 or the latest information it had. Maybe the agency didn't know about a new dependent, or there was a calculation error.
What to do: Use our stimulus calculator to estimate how much money you might be owed. The IRS tracking tool doesn't provide that level of information, but the letter the IRS sends you does. The IRS said it's making supplemental payments to people who've received payments based on their 2019 tax returns but are eligible for a new or larger payment based on their recently processed 2020 tax returns. These "plus-up" payments could include a situation where a person's income dropped in 2020 compared with 2019, or a person had a new child or dependent on their 2020 tax return, and other situations, the IRS said.
What next? First, keep the IRS letter for your tax records. You'll need it later. Next, if there's a difference between the amount you think you should get and the total you did get, it might mean you'll be able to claim more stimulus money in 2021 or 2022. If the IRS thinks it sent you your total, but you didn't get a check at all, you may need to file for a payment trace.
You may have overlooked the envelope with your check or card
The problem: With the first payment, some people reported accidentally throwing out the envelope containing their check, not recognizing that it contained a stimulus payment.
What to watch for: Pay attention to the mail and don't assume it's all junk. We recommend tracking your USPS letters for a heads up on what's being delivered. For a paper check, watch for a white envelope sent from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The memo field will read "Economic Impact Payment."
A prepaid EIP debit card will come in a white envelope with a seal of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Once you open the envelope, the card itself will say Visa on the front and haveMetaBank, N.A., the name of the bank, on the back. The envelope will include details on how to activate the Economic Impact Payment.
What next? You can cash the check right away, but the 5 million EIP card recipients will need to activate the card first. The checks will expire after a year.
Someone scammed you and took your payment
The problem: You think someone swiped your stimulus check, or stole personal and sensitive information while posing as a government agency contacting you about your direct payment.