SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Roughly 11 million Californians are receiving debit cards loaded with their inflation relief payments from the state. But many say they looked like junk mail or a scam -- and threw them out.
When 7 On Your Side reported the cards are for real, viewers who realized their mistake began asking if there's any way to get their cards back.
7 On Your Side FAQ: Answers to the most commonly asked Middle Class Tax Refund questions
7 On Your Side's previous story followed Doris Beers of San Francisco, who was skeptical when she got an envelope in the mail from something called "California Middle Class Tax Refund" -- with an address in Nebraska, and a debit card issued from a bank in New York.
"I almost threw it out," said Beers. "I honestly thought it was a scam."
VIDEO: Californians get inflation relief payments, but confusion arises about cards, issuing bank
Luckily, she noticed the California seal, and realized the card was loaded with money -- and she's cashing in.
"I've been using it just for very small purchases, like, I go buy bread at the bakery," she said.
But not so for Young Kwon of Santa Clara. He thought this was a credit card sales pitch -- and he pitched it into the trash.
VIDEO: Californians reluctant to cash in their inflation-relief debit cards: Here's why
Then he saw 7 On Your Side's report saying these cards were loaded with inflation relief payments from the state.
He realized he'd just dumped $700 into the garbage.
"I hated myself for throwing it away so quickly," he said. "Yes, so it really, really bothered me for a while. That's why I contacted you."
He wasn't alone.
David L. writes, "I thought it was a scam and chopped it in little pieces. Now what?"
Yvonne R. writes, "I threw it out with the recycling. What can I do?"
MORE: Estimate how much money CA taxpayers will receive with tax refund calculator
If you dumped your debit card, you should be able to get it back by calling Money Network at 1-800-240-0223.
The recording will say: "To access our customer service, press one."
But don't press one for customer service! Instead press three for "card replacement."
The recording will continue: "If you received your card but no longer have it, press one."
You'll have to enter six digits of your Social Security number, plus your zip code, and...
If you're successful, you'll hear: "Your request has been accepted..."
"Wowwww!" Kwon laughed.
Kwon's lost card will be coming back in the mail.
"Thank you!" he said. "That was it! You gave me a Christmas present!"
Lots of callers mistakenly choose the customer service option but that is a dead end, since it requires you to enter the card number -- which you don't have. Instead choose the option to replace the card. One warning though: 7 On Your Side has heard it can take weeks or even months to get that new card mailed to you.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.
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