The United States tax agency is preparing to send some 4 million American taxpayers their $1,200 stimulus cash stored on preloaded Visa debit cards.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the government agency responsible for the collection of taxes and enforcement of tax laws, is working to issue prepaid cards to individuals who do not have direct deposit information on file with the tax agency.

The stimulus dollars are normally sent out via direct deposit or cheque.

Issued by the Treasury Department’s financial agent MetaBank, the debit cards are not linked to bank accounts. Instead, they come preloaded with the tax payer’s allotted stimulus payment amount.

The new handouts will be in addition to the 150 million remittances already sent out by the tax agency as part of the economic impact payments.

The IRS has provided some information about using and securing the cards:

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A recipient can activate the card and set up the four-digit PIN by calling 1.800.240.8100.

Once activated, the card can be used to make purchases online or at retail locations where Visa is accepted. It can also be used to withdraw cash at in-network ATMs and transfer funds to personal bank accounts.

The user can check the card’s balance online, by phone or via mobile app without incurring a fee. While using the card at out-of-network ATMs will be free the first time, each subsequent withdrawal will come with a $2.00 fee.

The same rule applies to withdrawals over-the-counter at a bank. The first one will incur no charges, but subsequent cash withdrawals this way will cost $5.00 each.

International ATM withdrawals carry a $3.00 fee.

Reissuing a card that is lost or stolen will cost you $7.50 – and priority shipping could tack on another $17.00.

If the card is lost or stolen, the recipient can log in at to block unauthorised transactions and call 1-800-240-8100 to report it.