A paper check is no match for a storm

(ARA) – The United States is the most severe-weather prone country on Earth according to the National Weather Service. Hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and other natural disasters can strike without warning and force you to evacuate your home or cause disruptions in mail service.

Ensuring greater reliability of federal benefit payments during unforeseen events is one of the reasons the U.S. Department of the Treasury says it has begun its move toward all-electronic federal benefit payments – a change announced late last year that has already gone into effect for millions of baby boomers and others newly applying for benefits. Anyone currently relying on paper checks must switch to direct deposit by March 1, 2013.

Paper checks can be unreliable

“Mother Nature is unpredictable and a severe weather event or other natural disaster could prevent anyone still relying on paper federal benefit checks from getting their money at a time they need it most,” says David A. Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Financial Management Service. “When you are facing a potentially devastating situation, the last thing you should have to worry about is how to get your money.”

In recent years, severe weather has forced alternative delivery arrangements for millions of federal benefit paper check payments.

Switching ahead of the deadline is fast, free and easy

The Treasury Department says it is fast, free and easy to make the switch to direct deposit for your federal benefits payments ahead of the deadline. Visit the Treasury Department’s Go Direct (R) campaign website at www.GoDirect.org, or call the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center at 1-800-333-1795. For the fastest service, call mid-month and have the following information on hand:

* Social Security number or claim number

* 12-digit federal benefit check number

* Amount of most recent federal benefit check

* Financial institution’s routing transit number

* Account number and type – checking or savings

You can also contact your federal benefit agency office or switch to direct deposit through your financial institution.

Prefer a prepaid debit card?

For people who don’t have a bank or credit union account or who prefer a prepaid debit card, the Direct Express (R) Debit MasterCard (R) card is another Treasury-recommended option. Money is posted to the card account on payment day each month. You can make purchases, pay bills and get cash anywhere Debit MasterCard (R) is accepted. There are no sign-up fees, overdraft fees or monthly fees. Some fees for optional services may apply. For information on card fees and features, visit www.GoDirect.org. No bank account or credit check is required.

A paper check is no match for a storm – so don’t chance it.

The preceding information has been provided by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service. The Go Direct (R) campaign is sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve Banks. The Direct Express (R) logo, Go Direct (R) and Direct Express (R) are registered service marks, and the Go Direct (SM) logo is a service mark, of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Management Service (used with permission). The Direct Express (R) Debit MasterCard (R) card is issued by Comerica Bank, pursuant to a license by MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard (R) and the MasterCard (R) Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated.