What To Do About A Lost COVID-19 Stimulus Payment

What To Do About A Lost COVID-19 Stimulus Payment

The material in this post is not guaranteed to help you rescue your stimulus payment from the bit bucket or thieves or whatever oblivion it may have fallen in to. The IRS sends these checks through normal mail not registered mail so we can expect a good number of them to disappear. 

You can find a lot of information on the IRS website.

NOTE: If the IRS DID NOT send your check then you may be able to claim your stimulus payment as a credit on your taxes. The information described below applies to you only if the IRS DID SEND your check but you did not receive it. 

Table Of Contents


I have $8900 that I would not have had I not followed the procedures detailed below. I highly recommend doing the same for anyone who is hesitant about the process. 

July 2020

I Faxed off my Form 3911. I do not know if LBC is operating right now or to what degree they are operational, but that is the method I would use if I had not faxed the doc. LBC will run you about $30, but ordinary postal mail would never make it to the destination. I used an Internet fax company to fax my form. I have used the same company for about ten years and it cost me $0.00 (hint) for the service and works like a charm every time. Do your own research to pick a free fax company. I have ZERO confidence that I will ever see any payout from the IRS. Pity...it would have been $2900 in my case.  

August 2020

Not sure if this is good news yet or not, but it is big news. 

I have been checking the Get My Payment website regularly not expecting anything to have changed. Then today I was greeted with this:

If you log in and click that button this will be the next screen:

I entered my data and the page threw an error that it did not match their records.

I had entered my AGI for 2019 the first time, so I tried my AGI for 2018 and it worked. 

This is the screen you get if you succeed in entering your bank info:

Notice on the first image that the screen says "any future payment," so this issue of the first payment is still not resolved. I need to make a call to follow up, as it has been six weeks since I faxed the 3911.
I am not looking forward to that call.  
September 2020
I called the IRS and told the rep that my check never arrived and that I sent Form 3911 to the IRS three months ago. She said "OK sir, I will transfer you to someone who will help you with that." I was transferred to a recorded message, "We are sorry, but we are not able to take your call at this time due to extremely high call volume...."
October 2020
I decided to give this one last chance today. I called the EIP hotline again (800-919-9835) and had what at this point I am willing to count as success. The first person I spoke with took my info and transferred me to a specialist. The specialist told me that they were virtually shut down until August so any 3911 sent before then might be...who knows where. The specialist took my information over the phone and filled out a new trace for me. Normally, they require joint filers to fill out the hard copy and fax or mail it in, but the supervisor gave permission to complete the process over the phone. The specialist told me that in 4-6 weeks I would receive either a new check or a packet if the check had been endorsed (as described below). So another waiting game for now.They have my US address on file and they cannot direct deposit it, so it will be another check. I intend to call the local bank where I opened my account and ask them to do me a favor and let me have my mail service mail it to them so they can deposit it. If they cannot do that, the mobile deposit is another option.

NOTICE This is my opinion, but I think it is rooted in fact given the fact that the IRS told me that they cannot direct deposit the check that will be resent. You MUST have a US mailing address for the check to be sent to or else it will just be lost again. Get busy and find a reliable mail forwarding service for yourself if you have not already done so.
Give it a shot if you are still waiting.  
the call took 47 minutes FYI 
November 2020
Three  weeks after I called the IRS the money was deposited into my bank account. The agent I had spoken with had told me that the it could not be direct deposited, but fortunately it was.
January 2021: Second Round of Checks 
The second round of checks started going out in the first week of January 2021. These were for $600. 
March 2021: Third Round of Checks 
In March 2021 Congress passed legislation containing the third stimulus check. The Senate Parliamentarian did not allow the provision in the legislation creating a $15 per hour minimum wage, stating that it did not meet the rules for budget reconciliation.

The third round of checks began going out in the third week of march, this time for $1400 per individual and each dependent.

Another important provision within that law is expansion of the child tax credit. The previous CTC was $2000. The full $2000 reduces tax liability on a dollar for dollar basis. The refundable portion of the existing credit is up to $1400 after tax liability has been met. The maximum refundable portion in 15% of earned income above $2500. 

The new legislation does away with the earned income requirement and makes the entire credit refundable. The credit is expanded to $3600 for children under 6 and $3000 for children 6 and above, but under 17. Additionally, the credit will be deposited by monthly payments beginning in July 2021. 

I hate socialism, but I say take this money and use it while you can. Use it to prepare, which you should be doing already. No one can look at the national debt, the deficit, the unfunded liabilities, the state of the economies and everything else and not see that we are at the door step of something terrible.

So take the money and use it according to your best judgement. When the government is spending money like there is no tomorrow it might just be because they have intel to that effect. 

Using The IRS Get My Payment Tool 

The following applies only if you already submitted a 2019 tax return. If you did not, then you can still use the non-filers tool.

If you do not have a US bank account then you may be out of luck for direct deposit. The IRS can’t direct deposit money to a foreign account, according to an attorney at the FTC website.

The IRS has done some work on the Get My Payment tool and will now accept the four digit Philippines postal code.

Enter your Social Security #

Enter your birth date

The system will also accept the information of whomever you filed jointly with (I tried it and it works).

When you enter your address it must be exactly as you entered it in your latest tax return.

Then enter your postal code and press enter (and pray that it works).

You may get the message that a check was already sent to your address in which case you will not be able to enter direct deposit information.

Call The IRS EIP Hotline

You can call the IRS Economic Impact Payment Hotline at 800-919-9835. 

You will find that number on the official IRS website.

The wait for a live person may be very long and you will most likely be directed to do one of the things listed below.

If you do call the IRS please be very patient with them. The people at the IRS who are taking calls are not responsible for whatever hardships you may be having. The IRS has undergone simultaneous budget cuts and workload increases, so be understanding with anyone you talk to at the agency.

Was Your Check Returned To The IRS?

The IRS website Stimulus Payment Faq Page under "Payment Status: My payment was mailed weeks ago, but the Post Office was unable to deliver it. What should I do?" this note was added on May 28:
If you have not received your payment within 14 days of the payment date, check Get My Payment periodically. If the IRS receives your payment back because the Post Office was unable to deliver it, we will update your payment status to “Need More Information,” at which point you will be able to enter your bank account information.If you don’t provide your bank account information, the IRS will hold your Economic Impact Payment until we receive your updated address. To update your address please see: Address changes

Form 3911

IRS added this note on June 9 regarding lost payments:
Get My Payment shows that my Payment was issued but I never received it. How do I get a new one? (added June 9, 2020)
If Get My Payment shows your Payment was issued but you have not received it and it has been more than 5 days since the scheduled deposit date (or more than 4 weeks since it was mailed by check (6 weeks if you have a forwarding address on file with the local post office; 9 weeks if you have a foreign address)), you should initiate a trace on your Payment by calling the IRS at 800-919-9835 or you may submit Form 3911
If you call, please be advised that you may experience long wait times or recorded assistance due to limited staffing. If you submit the form and you are Married Filing Joint, both spouses must sign the form.
Note: If a direct deposit, check with your bank before initiating a trace to verify they did not receive the deposit. Do not request a Payment trace if you are trying to determine eligibility for the Payment or the amount of Payment you should have received. You must have been issued Notice 1444 or received a payment date from Get My Payment to perform a trace.

Your claim for a missing Payment is processed one of two ways:
  • If the check wasn't cashed, you'll receive a replacement check once the original check is canceled.
Note: If you find the original check and receive a replacement, you MUST return the original as soon as possible.
  • If the refund check was cashed, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) will provide you with a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. Follow the instructions for completing the claim package. BFS will review your claim and the signature on the canceled check before determining whether they can issue you a replacement check.
According to the first paragraph that you should not initiate a trace until 9 weeks have passed (if you have a foreign address) from the date of payment shown in Get My Payment. The first checks were sent out on April 24, so no one should initiate a trace until June 26 at the very earliest.

The process may take several months especially for expats.

How To Fill Out The Form? 

Form 3911 is supposed to for reporting a lost/stolen refund check, so it does not exactly fit the stimulus payment. The advice from the IRS is to fill it out the best you can.

The following is my best guess at filling out Form 3911: 

If you submit the form and you are Married Filing Jointly, both spouses must sign the form

Write “EIP” on the top of the form and complete Sections I, II and III. 

For "in reply to your inquiry on" you can enter the date you contacted the IRS or just the date you downloaded the form.

For "about your Federal tax return for" you can enter "2020 EIP".

For "We sent you the following refund(s)" enter the amount of the stimulus payment in the first space (if known).

In the last line you can enter the date that the check or direct deposit was scheduled if you know it. The Get My Payment tool may show you this information or you may find out from alive person if you call the IRS.

Mark whether it was a check or a direct deposit.

"The U.S. Postal Service returned your check because they could not deliver it" - check it if you know for a fact that this happened, otherwise leave it blank.

"Your check was not cashed within one year of the issue date as the law requires and it can no longer be cashed." does not apply.

"If you did not receive the refund check, or if you received it and it was lost, stolen or destroyed, please complete Sections I, II and III." this is why you came here so check it and move to Section I.

Section I 

Fill out Section I with your information and that of your spouse if you filed joint.

If you are like me and your address changed since you filed, then enter CURRENT ADDRESS here and the address you entered on your return will be entered as shown below.

Make certain that you enter the address exactly as it is on the return.

When completing Number 7 under Section I, check the box for “Individual” as the Type of return and enter “2020” as the tax period and leave the date filed blank. I would leave "Type of refund requested" blank.

Section II

For #8 I would check "I didn’t receive a refund," and then skip to #11 to enter bank information. #11 does not ask for a routing number, but I would enter one just the same along with the account number. 

I would sign off Section III and skip Section IV as it does not apply to a check that I have never seen and for which the IRS can provide me no information.

I intend to include a cover letter with the form explaining all of the details.

Again, we are just taking a shot here. There is no guarantee that this will work, but it is the best option that some people may have at this point. I am going to try it. I intent to send the form through LBC to make sure that it gets to the IRS and fast. This will cost about $30.

The form is to be mailed to the "Internal Revenue Service center where you would normally file a paper tax return." To get the precise answer for exactly where to mail your form you need to go to the IRS website and click the state you entered on your last return or click International. Next click the type of form you used last time around and that should take you to the proper mailing address. For an expat who filed a 1040 that address is:
Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215
On June 19 the IRS updated instructions for submitting Form 3911

  • You may now fax the completed form (855-203-7538 if you live in a foreign country).
Even though you put your bank information on the form you may still receive any payment via Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Card (see below). 

Economic Impact Payment (EIP) Cards

The IRS website has added this note about debit cards to its EIP information page:
Mailed Check Payments May Be Sent As Debit Cards. If the Get My Payment application says you’re receiving a check, your Payment may come as a debit card. Debit card Payments come in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services."For more information, see Prepaid Debit Cards.
This FAQ was added on June 4 in regard to EIP cards:
A48. Individuals who have lost or destroyed their EIP Card may request a free replacement through MetaBank® Customer Service. The standard fee of $7.50 will be waived for the first reissuance of any EIP Card. Any initial reissuance fee charged to a customer from an earlier date will be reversed. Individuals do not need to know their card number to request a replacement. Individuals may request a replacement by phone at 800-240-8100 (option 2 from main menu).The Economic Impact Payment Card is sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, managed by Money Network Financial, LLC and issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A. If you receive an Economic Impact Payment Card, it will arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The Visa name will appear on the front of the Card; the back of the Card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank®, N.A. Information included with the Card will explain that the card is your Economic Impact Payment Card. Please go to EIPcard.com for more information and additional FAQs. 
If you call 800-240-8100,then after language selection you can select #1 for card activation or to speak with customer service. You will not be able to speak with customer service without a card number. 

For a lost or stolen card you will select #2 after language selection. You will then be asked for the last six digits of your social security #. You will then be asked for your zip code. I do not know if this did not work for me because I do not have a card or if they are having the same problem with nonstandard postal codes that the IRS initially experienced.

You can google the card or read about it here: https://www.kiplinger.com/slideshow/taxes/T054-S001-stimulus-check-payments-by-prepaid-debit-card/index.html

The cards are provided by Meta Bank.

There are fees for some services offered by the cards, but you can have all funds transferred to your bank account at no charge. 

As an expat you may wish to have to have the card sent to your US mail forwarding address. If this is the case then you should have entered that as the first address on the Form 3911.

It is possible that the mail forwarding company can scan the card and your pin, then you can register for an account on the EIP Card site and transfer the balance of the card to your bank account.

Changing Your IRS Mailing Address

See the IRS website for instructions.

The Bottom Line 

I hope that this page can help you to recover your lost payment. 

The worst case is that someone stole and cashed your check or EIP card in which case you will need to follow the instructions for Form 3911 above and complete the claim package that the BFS will send you. Their graphologists are some of the best in the field and they will be able to determine if your handwriting matches the signature on the cashed check. Using this and other tools they will make a determination as to whether to grant you another check. I do not know how long the entire process takes, but I can see it ranging from six months to a year or even more. But eventually, if all goes well, you may get your payment.

It is worth your time to go through this process.