Talk about throwing cash away.

The Treasury Department has started delivering some coronavirus stimulus payments in the form of mailed prepaid debit cards, in lieu of actual paper checks. Unfortunately, some recipients are coming close to tossing their envelopes in the trash because they’re mistaking them for scams or junk mail.

The government started distributing payments by direct deposit in April and has already delivered more than 140 million stimulus payments worth $239 billion. Prepaid card versions, issued through MetaBank, may be used to make purchases, withdraw funds at in-network ATMs and transfer money to recipients’ own bank accounts. And they’ve been touted as “secure, easy to use, and allow us to deliver Americans their money quickly” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

However, Americans hoping to use their money to splurge on household goods — or perhaps other questionable expenditures — first have to realize what, exactly, just arrived in their mailboxes before they can do so.

The cards are sent in a plain envelope indicating it’s from “Money Network Cardholder Services” — and not specifically from the US government — according to a post on the Internal Revenue Service site. That doesn’t suggest it’s official government business.

That has thrown some people off.

Upper West Side resident Dan Gerstein himself faced the issue. “Exactly what happened to us. The envelope gives you no clue it is a payment from the government,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Friday. He added that he was thankful his wife actually “felt the card inside and read it closely.”

And Virginia resident Eric Green this week told the Washington Post that he and his wife questioned the envelope originating from Omaha, Nebraska, wondering, “Is it a scam or legitimate?”

The couple, who had expected their stimulus payment to be delivered via direct deposit, took the delivery to two banks they use, and personnel there were even unfamiliar with the contents. “They didn’t seem to know about it either,” Green said, adding that he only activated the card after the newspaper confirmed it was the real deal.

Even a TV reporter in Massachusetts confessed that she received her own check card in the mail and “thought it was a scam at first,” then advised folks to “keep your eyes focused while checking your mail!”

The AARP is trying to help its own members with an explicit warning on its site — in bold type — that reads, “Don’t throw it away thinking it’s junk mail or a scam.”

One Twitter poster suggested the cards — which are emblazoned with a patriotic blue field and white stars, plus the words “VISA DEBIT” — resembled “a shady looking pre-paid debit card.” A tweeter said she received hers and “can confirm: looks just like junk mail.” And another apparently saved his mother from putting hers through a paper shredder.

This wasn’t the first hiccup for the stimulus program. Many users of the IRS’ online Get My Payment tracker were hit with error messages on April 15 when they tried to find out when their stimulus checks would arrive. Last month some people also discovered that electronic deposits had been made to the wrong bank accounts.