GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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Lifestyle

January 7, 2013

Benefits payments go digital to save money, improve safety

:Dear Abby: Please help me spread an important message to people who receive Social Security or other federal benefits each month via one of the estimated 5.4 million paper checks each month. Starting March 1, 2013, the Treasury Department is requiring all Social Security, VA, SSI and other federal beneficiaries receive their benefits by ELECTRONIC PAYMENT. Senior citizens and other federal beneficiaries may choose either direct deposit or the Treasury-recommended Direct Express Debit MasterCard.

This new payment method is NOT optional. It is the law. Besides saving taxpayers money, switching to electronic payments provides a safer, more convenient and cost-effective way for people to get their federal benefits than paper checks.

Individuals who need assistance in switching to electronic payment can call the Treasury’s secure Go Direct Call Center at 800-333-1795. Our agents are specially trained to answer questions and complete the switch-over process in less than 10 minutes.

We urge people not to wait until the last minute to make this important change. Thank you for your help, Abby.

Walt Henderson, Go Direct Campaign Director

Dear Mr. Henderson: You have come to the right place. Dear Abby readers are the most caring and generous people in the world, and I know they will be glad to help us spread the word.

Readers, if you or people you care about will be affected by this massive change in the way benefits are being distributed, please clip or copy this column and be sure those people are informed. And when you do, tell them that when they make the call, they must have either their most recent benefit check on hand, or know their 12-digit federal benefit check number. To arrange for direct deposit, they will also need to know their bank’s or credit union’s routing transit number and their account number.

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