Issue III: Economic Impact Payments (“Stimulus Checks”) & COVID-19

UPDATED June 2, 2021

Part of our COVID-19 Consumer Protection Guide series.

Millions of Americans have received their latest economic impact payments, or “stimulus checks,” yet some may still be waiting. The IRS’s website has a lot of information about these payments and how to obtain them. Our FAQs have some basic info on the payments — and some tips to help avoid scammers who want to steal the money from you. 

FAQs on Economic Impact Payments

Q. Am I eligible for a payment?

A. If you are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or qualifying resident alien, and you make less than $75,000, you are eligible for a first economic impact payment of $1,200, a second economic impact payment of $600, and a third economic impact payment of $1,400.


Married Filing Jointly

Addition per underage child

Income range for reduced payment

First Economic Impact Payment





Second Economic Impact Payment





Third Economic Impact Payment





For more on eligibility and calculating your payment, check out the IRS’s website.

Q. Why haven’t I received my payment yet?

A. The IRS has delivered over 165 million payments, but payments are still being sent out weekly. If you filed a 2020 tax return and the IRS processed it, you can use the IRS’s Get My Payment tool to check the status of your third economic impact payment.  

Most filers who received their tax refunds through direct deposit will get their economic impact payment through direct deposit into the same bank account. 

While you can check the status of your payment for the third stimulus check, the first and second economic impact payments no longer appear on the IRS’s Get My Payment tool.

If you didn't get a first and second economic impact payment or got less than the full amount, you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit. To claim that credit, you must file a 2020 tax return, even if you aren't required to file.

Q. What if I can’t get my payment through direct deposit?

A. The IRS will mail you a check or an economic impact card if direct deposit is unavailable.

Q. What if I did not file a 2020 tax return?

A. First, find out if you should file a return, and do so if needed. In order to be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit, you must file a 2020 tax return, even if you do not usually file a tax return.

Q. Can I be charged to get the payment?

A. No! If anyone tries to get you to pay for an economic impact payment, they are a scammer. Beware of scammers online and on the phone.

Q. Will the IRS call me to get personal information for the payment? 

A. No! The IRS will not call you. If someone calls and asks for personal information, they are almost certainly a scammer.

Q. How can I protect my payment from identity thieves?

A. Check the status of your payment and make sure it has been received. 

Additionally, check your credit reports for free and make sure there are no unauthorized accounts or information there, since those may be signs that your identity has been stolen.

Q. Can my payment be garnished by debt collectors?

A. No! Governor Newsom announced that debt collectors will not be able to garnish Californians’ economic impact payments, and that payments that were garnished have to be returned. 

You do not have to take any action to protect your stimulus payment. The protection is retroactive, so any money taken by debt collectors from the stimulus payments must be returned. There are exceptions for those who owe money in spousal support, child support, or owe for victim restitution. Read the full text of the Executive Order here

This guide is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice.