Safeguarding Money:     
U.S. Treasury Launches Go Direct to Spur Direct Deposit

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank are launching Go Direct, a nationwide campaign to motivate Americans to use direct deposit for Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other federal benefit payments.

"Direct deposit ensures that your money is safe and accessible," said Treasury Fiscal Assistant Secretary Don Hammond. "The benefits of direct deposit become all too clear when routine services are disrupted in natural disasters and other events. Direct deposit offers people peace of mind and security."

Go Direct champions the Treasury's long-standing efforts to shift from paper payments to the safer, easier and more secure option of direct deposit. Direct deposit is completely predictable and reliable by giving people access to their money wherever they are, whenever they need it. It also means no lost or stolen checks, because the payment goes straight into a person's account.

Don Hammond officially will kick off the national campaign on Sept. 27 with a commemorative event in Washington, D.C. Special events also will be held in cities around the country, including Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

Partners make a difference
Go Direct reaches out to federal benefit recipients through people and organizations they know and trust -- such as financial institutions and community-based groups -- to inform them about the benefits of direct deposit and to help them sign up for it.

"AARP encourages people receiving Social Security and government checks to use direct deposit. It is safe, convenient and quick," said Jay Sternberg, AARP's National Coordinator of Economic Security. "In light of recent catastrophic events, people need the peace of mind of knowing that their money will be in the bank when they need it.”

American Bankers Association (ABA) President and CEO Edward L. Yingling agreed. "Check fraud is a growing risk for financial institutions and the customers they serve. In supporting Go Direct, we can help increase consumer convenience and ensure people's finances are safe and secure."

In addition to protecting federal beneficiaries, direct deposit saves taxpayer dollars. Currently, the Treasury issues nearly 13.3 million benefit checks each month -- the majority of which are Social Security payments. If these were converted to direct deposit, it would save taxpayers about $120 million annually, benefiting today's seniors as well as future generations.

Preparing for tomorrow
Despite educational and marketing efforts to spur the use of electronic payments, growth in direct deposit has slowed in recent years to less than 1 percent a year. The rate of adoption of direct deposit is especially relevant today, considering the fast-approaching wave of baby boomers who will begin reaching retirement age in 2008.

Several national organizations -- such as AARP, American Bankers Association, Credit Union National Association, Easter Seals, Independent Community Bankers of America, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, United Way of America, among many others -- are supporting the Go Direct launch by reaching out to their audiences and hosting events.

Go Direct has established Web sites, (English) and (Spanish), as well as toll-free numbers to help people sign up for direct deposit: (800) 333-1795 (English) and (800) 333-1792 (Spanish).

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