NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — That federal stimulus money you’ve been waiting for may not come in a check or direct deposit, but as a debit card.

Many are receiving the card and mistakenly thinking it’s a scam. This, as another 2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported Thursday.

Bloomfield, N.J. resident Vickie Plummer is usually a comedian by night and a full-time worker at a student travel company by day.

But now, her laughs have turned into tears. She was laid off from her travel job on March 17, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a stress level I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, even when I was in the hospital and almost died,” Plummer said.


Plummer, a cancer survivor, filed for unemployment benefits on March 21, and some 10 weeks later is still waiting for a check.

“It’s heartbreaking. I feel bad for all the families, all the kids. What are they going to do?” she said, breaking down.

Plummer said she knows she’s not alone.

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Last week, another 34,410 people filed for unemployment in New Jersey, bringing the state total to nearly 1.2 million. Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday 911,000 so far have had their claims fulfilled, and the Department of Labor is working as quickly as possible to clear the backlog.

The U.S. Department of Labor said another 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the total to more than 40 million..

Mark Hamrick is a senior economic analyst for

“We’re moving farther away from the peak of this crisis. Each additional week that occurs, I think that will continue to be the case. But we’re still very much in the throes of a deep economic downturn,” Hamrick said.

A slight silver lining for many has been the federal stimulus money going out to individuals and families.

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Carolann Petnuch and her husband, who hail from Yonkers, weren’t expecting theirs to come in debit card form.

“We thought it was a scam,” Petnuch said.

The feds are sending some 4 million Americans their stimulus money, not by check or direct deposit, but by prepaid debit card.

The Internal Revenue Service said it will arrive in a plain white envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The Visa name will be on the front of the card and the name of the issuing bank, Meta Bank, on the back.

“This Visa card came and my husband goes, ‘Oh, that’s baloney. Let’s just get rid of that.’ So, good thing we didn’t because it would help, food and stuff like that,” Petnuch said.

Taxpayers should be on the lookout for stimulus scams. The IRS has said it will never call, email or text you to verify or request personal or financial information.


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