WINDSOR, Calif. (KGO) -- Millions of Americans are receiving their stimulus payments loaded onto debit cards. For some it's convenient, but not so for a North Bay man. His money was locked on his card and he couldn't get it out.
How many times have you forgotten a password and had to have it reset? It seems everything we do needs a password, and it's hard to remember them all. Well, watch out with these stimulus debit cards. You need a PIN -- and you'd better not forget it.
It happened to David Ponzo of Windsor - when he received his $600 stimulus payment on a debit card in February, he decided to save it for a big purchase.
"Many a backside has sat in this couch,'' Ponzo said, as he sank into the sofa he inherited from his brother's family. When it was new, it was actually white.
"Then they had three kids and a dog,'' he said. "Then the kids jumped on it and the dog slept on it, and it's awful... Kinda comfy, but just filthy.''
So when he got that stimulus payment, he decided to splurge on a new sectional - but not just yet. "I was waiting for a holiday to get a good deal,'' he said.
David activated the debit card, and set it aside. Then, weeks later, an awful realization.
"I couldn't remember, and I was starting to go crazy. I'm like, 'It's gotta be this, or that, or what was it!'" he said.
For the life of him, David could not remember the four-digit PIN he set up for that debit card.
"It was on a piece of paper... and I put it down and I cleaned up in here," he said.
So he called the debit card company, Metabank, to reset it.
He showed us what happened.
"For customer service, press one. ...'' the phone tree begins.
However, when it came time to reach customer service, he had to first enter his PIN. Which of course he'd forgotten.
"Please enter your four-digit PIN number and press pound," the phone tree said.
"I was like, 'That's what I'm calling for, I don't remember the PIN,'" Ponzo recalled.
So, Ponzo started entering every four-digit number he could think of, hoping to hit the right one.
"My old cell phone number's last four digits, my birthday, parents' anniversary, old addresses, old locker combinations," he said.
"I'm sorry, the PIN you entered does not match our records," the phone tree said.
"So I'd try it again, and every time I'd say, 'Okay, it wasn't that one, it wasn't that one,'" he said.
The phone recording allowed him to try three numbers, then hung up on him.
"We're sorry we still did not get the requested information. Please call back when you have the required numbers. Goodbye," the phone message intoned.
Ponzo would call back, sit through the five minutes of recorded greetings, and try three more.
"I was almost pulling my hair out," said Ponzo, who has a full head of neck-length tresses.
"And there's no option to, you know, speak with a representative, there's no, you know, 'Dial zero,' and there's no third option, just those options," he said.
Ponzo called the general bank number. A real person answered, but transferred him right back where he started.
"Please enter your four digit PIN," the phone recording said.
"I'm like, 'Wait a minute, I know that voice!'" Ponzo said, laughing. "Now you're gonna ask for the card number and the PIN. And I don't have the PIN."
"Please enter your 16-digit account number... please enter your PIN," the phone recording continued.
"You know, you can easily lock up your money and not get it out... It's, you know, four numbers. That's all it took, was four numbers and the whole thing was a mess," Ponzo said.
David consulted the IRS, Google, social media - no one knew what to do.
It seemed his $600 was locked up forever.
When Ponzo contacted 7 On Your Side, we told him about the guy who couldn't remember his bitcoin password and locked up his millions of dollars.
"Oh my gosh! Mine was just $600," Ponzo exclaimed.
7 On Your Side also reached out to MetaBank, and it agreed to reset his account. Ponzo got right to it.
"Thank you, your PIN has been successfully reset!" the phone recording said.
"Whew. I feel so much better!" said Ponzo.
He'll never forget that PIN again.
"Post-It notes on every wall," he said. "I may tattoo it on my arm."
Metabank tells us if you forget your pin, you need to report the card as lost, stolen or unusable. It won't easily reset a pin because it can make it easy for thieves to steal it. The bank will send you a new card -- although that can take weeks.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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