If you or a loved one receives a Social Security, SSI or other federal benefit by check, consider switching to direct deposit. It is safer and easier, and it gives you more control over your money. In fact, this is an issue worth discussing with older family members as you gather together during the holidays.
The Better Business Bureau is joining with the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank to conduct a campaign, called Go Direct, to motivate more Americans to select direct deposit for their federal benefit payments.
Among the benefits that direct deposit offers are:
- Safety from theft and fraud. Unlike paper checks, direct deposit payments do not get lost, misplaced or stolen. The payment goes straight into your bank account, bypassing any chance that your money will fall into the hands of strangers. Nearly 74,000 government checks totaling more than $70 million were stolen and forged in 2003 alone. And once a thief has your name, address, and bank account data, it is easier to steal your identity and run up debts in your name.
- Convenience. With direct deposit, you do not have to be home to await the arrival of your paper check and then travel to your bank or credit union to deposit the funds. Your payment is electronically transferred to your checking or savings account, no matter where you happen to be that day. Your money is in your account on your payment day – on time, every time. Waiting at home for your check will no longer rule your schedule or travel plans.
- More control over your money. Direct deposit is completely predictable. You know you will have your money at the same time each month.
- Savings for taxpayers. Each government check costs 75 cents more to issue than direct deposit, and the Treasury issues nearly 13.3 million benefit checks each month. If these were converted to direct deposit, it would save the federal government about $120 million a year. That is money that could benefit you and future generations.
To sign up today, call the Go Direct helpline toll-free at 1.800.333.1795 (English), 1.800.333.1792 (Spanish) or visit www.godirect.org. There are options for individuals who do not have a bank or credit union account, so call to ask for information.