Customers Angry Over Bank Delays On Stimulus Checks

Americans waiting to get their stimulus checks were growing increasingly frustrated Saturday after discovering some banks won’t make checks available to them for days, even if they’ve already been deposited by the federal government.

The official payment date for the “Economic Impact Payments” is March 17, but millions of dollars in checks had already landed in countless bank accounts by Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Some Americans may see the direct deposit payments as pending or as provisional payments in their accounts before the official payment date of March 17,” the Internal Revenue Service explained on its website.

Some digital banks, like Chime, said they authorized clients to instantly access the cash. Chime touted on Friday that it had already distributed $600 million in “stimmy” checks.

Chime customers on Twitter confirmed that they already had access to the money.

Chase, however, issued a statement that it will release the payments beginning March 17, apparently even if the money lands in accounts earlier. 

Wells Fargo said the same: that it will treat all checks as arriving March 17, whether they arrive earlier or not. “Wells Fargo will process all of the direct deposits according to the effective date provided by the U.S. Treasury” March 17, the bank emphasized on its website.

The bank couched the policy in a positive light on Twitter, chirping that customers can get the money “as soon as March 17” — but clearly no sooner, even if the millions from the government are under the bank’s control days before that.

It’s not yet clear how other banks are handling the payments. Some bank customers have received notification that the money has landed in their accounts but the money won’t be available to them until March 17, The Washington Post reported

The Journal noted that in previous rounds of stimulus checks, transactions at larger banks sometimes took a few days to show up as being credited to accounts.

Treasury and IRS officials are not revealing how much money has already been sent out in the first batch. Additional direct deposits will be sent over the next few weeks. People will get paper checks or new debit cards in the mail if the government doesn’t have direct-deposit information on file.

Sluggish check processing only works to banks’ advantage because of the increased “float” created by a massive influx of government cash. They can juggle the delays to boost outgoing loans to other customers, and to boost their profits.

Customers were getting annoyed about the stall, and appeared to be zeroing in on Wells.

The IRS said Friday that people can begin tracking the status of their checks using the “Get my Payment” portal beginning Monday. The agency also said it expects to issue more direct deposits and send payments as a check or debit card over the coming weeks.

This third round of payments — worth a total of $411 billion — is larger than either of the previous two last year. Eligible households will get up to $1,400 for each adult, child and adult dependent. 

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