‘Go direct’

Published 10:33 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

Treasury touts paperless payments

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is reminding its Social Security recipients to “Go Direct.”

The department has been encouraging its Social Security recipients for the past five years to switch to direct deposit from paper checks. The switch is free, and signing up takes less than five minutes.

“There are several reasons we’re encouraging people to switch to direct deposit,” said Tepricka Morgan, marketing specialist with the treasury department. “Nine out of 10 times there is a problem, it’s with a paper check. Direct deposit is safer and easier. More than 440,000 paper checks last year were reported lost or stolen and had to be reissued. If you’re signed up for direct deposit, that’s one less thing to worry about.”

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Of the 1.4 million Social Security and Supplemental Security Income payments issued to residents in Virginia each month, more than 259,000 are paper checks. Of those, nearly 45,000 are issued to residents of Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News, according to Morgan.

One of the most common reasons people are hesitant to sign up for the service is because they’re used to holding a check in their hand.

“It’s a sense of security for some people,” said Shirley Robinson of Farmer’s Bank. “It’s really more secure to do it through direct deposit, though. For people who want the security of knowing it was deposited, they can call the bank to verify. It’s really a wonderful thing.”

Direct deposit allows a person’s Social Security check to be automatically deposited into a bank account. With no paper check being sent in the mail, it can cut down on theft and ensure it posts to your account, whether you’re in town or not.

“You can access your money from virtually anywhere,” Morgan said. “If you’re out of town or if you have to evacuate because of a hurricane, you don’t have to worry about someone else taking it while you’re gone or not being able to access the money when you need it.”

In addition to individual safety and efficiency, direct deposit saves taxpayers money by eliminating printing costs, Morgan added.

Individuals without a bank account can sign up to receive their check on a Direct Express prepaid Mastercard.

To find out more about signing up for Direct Express, visit www.usdirectexpress.com or call 1-877-212-9991.

To find out more about switching to direct deposit, visit www.godirect.org or call 1-800-333-1795.