Ocean County Press Release
(UPDATED) TOMS RIVER – Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said some county residents are receiving federal COVID-19 stimulus checks made out to dead relatives.

"The suddenness of the coronavirus outbreak and the federal government's quick action to bolster the economy and assist resident's means that in some cases checks have mistakenly been issued to deceased residents," Vicari said.

Recently Vicari himself received a check made out to a late relative, who passed away more than two years ago.

"Please do not attempt to cash these checks," Vicari said. "Instead, simply check the box on the envelope you received and place it back into the mailbox. The check will then be automatically returned to the Treasury Department."

The Internal Revenue Service issued additional guidelines on how to return the money on May 7, Vicari said.

If an envelope is not available, the check can be sent to Kansas City Refund Inquiry Unit,
333 W Pershing Road, Mail Stop 6800, N-2 Kansas City, MO 64108.

Before returning any check, write "void" on the endorsement line of the back of the check.

If stimulus money is deposited directly into a deceased person's bank account, a personal check for that same amount should be sent to the address above.

Make the check or money order payable to "U.S. Treasury" and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number or individual taxpayer identification number) of the original recipient of the check.

In recent press interviews, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said relatives and estates of dead people who received checks should return the money.

The federal government mailed out more than 89 million checks in the first three weeks of the program. Overall, more than 150 million checks were mailed.

"With these kinds of numbers some mistakes are bound to be made," Vicari said.

Federal officials and President Donald Trump have said checks issued to the deceased need to be returned.

"Do the right thing," Vicari said. "Check the box and return the check."

The federal stimulus program has been especially important to Ocean County, where nearly 30 percent of the population is age 60 or older.

"In these very difficult times, both our seniors and our younger families are depending on these checks to help make ends meet," he said.

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