Gov't to get rid of paper checks on March 1
(CBS News) On Friday, the Treasury Department will implement its "Go Direct" campaign requiring everyone getting federal benefits by paper check to switch to electronic payments. This includes Social Security and veterans benefits as well as many others.
The change might make some people, especially seniors, who like receiving their checks in the mail every month, a little nervous. In particular, this might be stressful for those over 65 years old because 45 percent of seniors do not even own a computer.
CBS News contributor and analyst Mellody Hobson suggested that this change came about because of three main reasons.
"The big one, of course, is money. They say over 10 years they'll save about a billion dollars, and $120 million in the first year alone," she said. "The second reason is security. In 2011, 440,000 checks were lost or stolen, and $70 million worth of money was fraudulently endorsed on those, so that's a bad thing. And, lastly, for convenience. Seniors won't have to go to the banks to make deposits."
There are two ways to receive payments in place of a paper check. The first is a typical direct deposit into a bank account. However, there's also the option of a Direct Express MasterCard. It's a debit card that works just like an ATM card.
There are some exceptions to this new rule. Hobson explains that the government includes an automatic waiver for those born on or before May 1, 1921, as well as some people living in remote areas where banks are few and far, but they must apply for the waiver, and it's rumored that only about 20 percent of people who wanted a waiver were approved.
With the deadline to enroll just six days away, Hobson explained that once people have enrolled online correctly they should be very careful with their account information and confirm the money has been deposited.
"Be totally be aware of fraudsters. They're going to come out of the woodwork on this one," she said. "If you get any inbound phone calls, inbound computer solicitations, do not respond and do not give anyone your personal information."
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