Social Security Goes Checkless
Social Security checks will soon become a thing of the past. Starting in March, all Social Security benefits will be paid electronically or with a Direct Express debit card.
If you’ve signed up since May 2011, whether for Social Security, government pension or veterans benefits, you’ve been required to use the new system. If you signed up before that and are still receiving checks, you need to make a change — quickly.
A big reason for the switch is that paper checks aren’t as safe as electronic payments. Checks can be stolen out of your mailbox, or before they even get that far. That’s not to say electronic payments are foolproof. If you become the victim of identity theft, scammers can get into your account and have payments to you sent elsewhere. (Remember that no one from Social Security will ever call you to ask for your banking information or Social Security number. If that happens, report it to the fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.)
If you don’t want direct deposit to your bank, you can sign up to receive a Direct Express card. The benefit amount is added to your card, which you can then use to pay bills, get cash, make purchases and more. Most card-related activities are free, but some do incur a fee.
Your best bet is to go ahead and sign up for electronic payments. To get started, call Social Security at 1-800-333-1795 or go to your own bank. Online, go to www.GoDirect.org. Either way, you’ll need the following information in hand:
–Your Social Security number
–The amount of your most recent benefit check, as well as that 12-digit check number
–Your bank’s routing transit number and the account type.
Matilda Charles regrets that she cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into her column whenever possible. Write to her in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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