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Track your stimulus check or EIP card in the mail. It's easy and free

Keep an eye out for when your stimulus payment is on the way to your mailbox with this free USPS service. It's easy to use and shows you what to look for so you don't throw your money away.

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Stimulus check or junk mail? Know what to look for so you don't toss your new payment in the trash.

Angela Lang/CNET

You absolutely know your stimulus check is coming in the mail -- maybe you used the IRS tracker tool -- so you know to expect a paper check or an EIP debit card. Or maybe you're waiting for a plus-up payment to arrive by mail as your third check did. But how can you make sure you won't miss the payment delivery, or accidentally toss the envelope in the trash?

Fortunately, you can use a free service from the USPS. We'll explain what you need to know, including how to sign up and how it works to help you understand when your check is coming. We'll also show you what your stimulus check or EIP card will look like in the mail. However, it won't say how much money you'll receive -- this letter details that.

Here's how to hunt down your third stimulus payment if you haven't gotten it yet -- including when you need to file a payment trace. Here are some issues that could hold up check delivery and how to report a problem. By the way, here's the latest on a fourth stimulus check and how much money your family can get if you qualify for child tax credit payments in 2021. This story was recently updated.

First, use the IRS Get My Payment tool to see when your money might arrive

The IRS has its own stimulus check tracker tool, which contains information about your payment schedule, when your money will arrive and how, and if there's been an error processing your payment. The IRS tool is called Get My Payment, and it can be useful if you're not sure if you're actually eligible -- or if you just want to make sure the IRS knows you are. Here are more details for SSDI and SSI recipients, and for veterans.

A downside to Get My Payment is that it doesn't give you an exact date for when to expect your funds to arrive at your doorstep. That's where a free USPS service comes in. Since many stimulus checks will be arriving via snail mail now, a service called Informed Delivery will be the next step for tracking your stimulus check. Read on for how to use the USPS service to monitor your payment's arrival in the mail. And here's how to tell the IRS and USPS if you've moved.

Next, use USPS Informed Delivery to track your money straight to your mailbox (sign-up details below)

Informed Delivery is a free mail-tracking service from the USPS that automatically scans your letters and can alert you with an image each time a letter with your name on it is about to be delivered -- such as your third stimulus payment. 

When the USPS runs mailed letters through its automated mail sorting equipment, it automatically creates a digital image of the front of all letter-size mail. Anyone who signs up for Informed Delivery can benefit from that information by asking the USPS to notify you when each piece of mail with your name on it is on the way. Note that it can take three days to activate your account.

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As part of the program, you'll receive an email each morning, Monday through Saturday, to notify you of any mail being delivered to you. You'll also see a grayscale image of the front of the letter. Informed Delivery has free apps for Android and iOS, too. 

Just be aware that signing up means you'll see all your mail that's scanned by the post office, not just your stimulus check. You can cancel the service at any time. See the last section for details on how to sign up for Informed Delivery.

This is what your third stimulus check will look like

Paper checks will be in a white envelope from the US Department of the Treasury and will be labeled as an Economic Impact Payment in the memo field, according to the IRS. Here's what the check will look like, so you know it's legitimate. You have one year to use it.

United States Treasury economic impact stimulus checks

This is what the new paper stimulus check will look like.

IRS.gov

Here's how to identify your prepaid EIP debit card in the mail

EIP cards arrive in a white envelope with a seal from the Department of the Treasury. Inside is a Visa card with the issuing bank listed as MetaBank, N.A. -- that information is displayed on the back. There will be literature included with the card that'll explain that it's an Economic Impact Payment. Note: People who receive Social Security benefits aren't expected to get an EIP card.

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This is what to look for if you're mailed an EIP card.

IRS

Sign-up information for the USPS Informed Delivery service

Informed Delivery has some limitations. For example, it will work with many residential and personal post office box addresses but not businesses. It also won't work for some residential buildings where the postal service hasn't yet identified each unit. 

To check whether Informed Delivery is available in your area, head to the Postal Service's Informed Delivery page.

1. Tap Sign Up for Free.

2. Enter your mailing address and confirm that it'll work with the service; then accept the terms and conditions and tap Continue

3. On the next page, choose your username, password and security questions. Enter your contact information and tap Continue.

4. On the next page, you'll need to verify your identity. Tap Verify identity online if you want to receive a verification code on your phone or tap Request invitation code by mail if you want the USPS to mail you a code. You may also have the option to visit a post office to verify your identity in person.

For more details, here's how to calculate how much you'll get, everything you need to know about the third stimulus check and when you can expect your payment to arrive in your bank account or by mail. Here are three ways the stimulus bill can bring you more money, and all the tax breaks you could receive.