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JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo face customer anger over stimulus checks

Some banks delayed in receiving stimulus checks
JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo face customer anger over stimulus checks 00:19

The IRS has started distributing a third round of federal stimulus payment, worth up to $1,400 per eligible adult and child. But exactly when Americans get a check may depend partly on a bank's individual policies, with some customers of JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo expressing frustration after the banks said the coronavirus relief payments won't be available until March 17

About 90 million payments, worth a combined $242 billion, were deposited into accounts on Wednesday, the Treasury Department said in a statement. It added that another 150,000 checks worth about $442 million were sent by mail. Within the next 10 days, about 100 million checks should reach U.S. households, IRS and Treasury officials said earlier this week.

Wells Fargo and Chase said the timing of the payments is outside their control. Although the IRS started issuing payments over the weekend, the official payment date was set for March 17, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase told CBS MoneyWatch. Wells Fargo added that it "is not holding the funds" and that it will deposit the money into accounts as soon as possible. 

On Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase said it had deposited all the funds it had received from the IRS into customer accounts. Some Wells Fargo customers reported problems accessing their online accounts on Wednesday morning, which the bank said it was working on fixing. By mid-afternoon, Wells Fargo said it had resolved the issue.

"We apologize to our customers who may be experiencing issues with our online banking this morning due to high volumes," a Wells Fargo spokesman told CBS MoneyWatch in an emailed statement. "This does not affect stimulus payments with March 17 effective date which were credited to accounts today. We are working to address the issue as quickly as possible."

Other banks credited the funds to customer accounts immediately. Current, a New York-based banking startup, used its own balance sheet to credit the funds rather than waiting for settlement. Some of its customers received access to their stimulus funds on March 12, a day after President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion bill into law. 

The organization that manages electronic transfers said on Monday that the IRS set the settlement date of March 17, and added that there is "no mystery" about where the money is. "It is still with the government," Nacha, the organization that governs the ACH Network, told CBS MoneyWatch in a statement. 

"This is the date on which the IRS will provide the funds to the banks and credit unions to further make available to recipients," Nacha said in the statement. "The Nacha Rules require the banks and credit unions to make the funds available to the account holders by 9:00 a.m. local time on the settlement date; again, in this case, March 17."

It added, "The IRS chose the date of March 17, which is the date on which the IRS intends for settlement to occur." It added that the payments should clear into accounts at 8:30 a.m. ET on March 17. 

"This is literally the moment in time when the money will be transferred from the government to banks' and credit unions' settlement accounts at the Federal Reserve," the group added.

$1,400 stimulus payments, unemployment benefits among items in Biden's COVID-19 relief bill 03:12

Threatening to close accounts

Some customers have threatened to quit their banks on social media, citing the delay in accessing the funds as their reason.

"We know the importance of the stimulus funds to our customers, and Wells Fargo is making the stimulus funds available immediately when they are made available to us," the company said in a statement.

A group of nine banking and credit union industry groups on Tuesday pointed the blame on the IRS, rather than banking institutions. 

"While the IRS could have chosen to send the funds via Same Day ACH or provided for an earlier effective date, it chose not to do so," the group, which includes the American Bankers Association and Credit Union National Association, among others, said in the statement. "It is up to the sender, in this case the IRS, to decide when it wants the money to be made available and the IRS chose March 17."

Wells Fargo added it will continue to help customers facing financial hardships who need additional assistance. 

"Our goal is to support our customers, and we will proactively reverse outstanding Wells Fargo fees, including overdraft fees, for those who have a qualifying negative ending daily balance when their stimulus payment is deposited," the bank said in an emailed statement. 

Wells Fargo added, "As we did for prior stimulus payments, we will reach out proactively to those customers who have a qualifying negative ending daily balance on the day prior to the deposit to inform them of the specific steps we have taken, which includes providing temporary repayment deferrals"

IRS: Days to weeks

Most Americans will receive one of the $1,400 checks, but not everyone will receive a check immediately. The IRS will send the checks in batches over the next few days and weeks. The first checks were directed toward eligible taxpayers who had provided direct deposit information on their 2019 or 2020 returns, the Treasury said on Wednesday.

In previous stimulus check payments, the IRS has also prioritized getting the stimulus money out quickly to those that it knows it can reach, mostly people who have direct deposit information on file with the tax agency. It's a massive effort, given that the tax agency has $422 billion in funds to distribute to more than 100 million taxpayers. 

Most taxpayers don't need to take any actions to receive the checks, Treasury and IRS officials said on Friday. People can also check the "Get My Payment" site at, which the tax agency reopened for the third round of stimulus checks. 

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