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Go Direct Campaign

FAQ's: Go Direct Campaign sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to questions often asked about switching from paper checks to electronic payments for federal benefit payments.

What do I need to do if I get a federal benefit payment by paper check?
Everyone who gets a paper check for their federal benefit payments is required to switch to an electronic payment method by March 1, 2013.

How do I make the switch to electronic payments?
It's fast, free and easy to switch to electronic payments. You can sign up online any time at www.GoDirect.org or call the U.S. Treasury Electronic Payment Solution Center at (800) 333-1795 Monday - Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. You can also switch at your bank or credit union (for direct deposit only) or at your local federal benefit agency office.

Why is the U.S. Department of the Treasury getting rid of paper checks for federal benefit payments?
More than 540,000 Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks were reported lost or stolen in 2010 alone. Electronic payments are safer, easier and more reliable than paper checks. They also save taxpayer dollars.

Are there certain types of electronic payments the Treasury Department recommends?
The Treasury Department recommends that you get your federal benefit payments by direct deposit to a bank or credit union account. If you don't have a bank account or prefer a prepaid debit card, you can sign up for the Direct Express® Debit MasterCard® card.

What do I need to know so I can sign up for electronic payments?
When you switch to electronic payments, make sure you have on hand your most recent federal benefit check. You will need to know the amount of your last check and your 12-digit federal benefit check number, which is in the upper right hand corner of the check. If you would like to get your payments by direct deposit to a bank or credit union account, you'll also need your account type (checking or savings), account number and your financial institution's routing transit number. Your account number and the routing transit number can often be found on a personal check. You can also ask your bank for these numbers.

Is there any reason I should switch to electronic payments before the March 1, 2013 deadline?
There are many reasons why you should switch now rather than wait for the deadline. Getting your money electronically is safer, easier and more reliable than paper checks. There's no risk or lost or stolen checks and no need to make a trip to cash or deposit a check. Your money is on time, every time. Additionally, by switching now, you will beat the rush and avoid long waits to sign up as the deadline approaches.

What is the difference between electronic payments and direct deposit?
Electronic payments and direct deposit mean the same thing. Both terms mean that your federal benefit payment goes straight from the Treasury Department to your bank or credit union account or the Direct Express card account on payment day each month.

How do electronic payments work?
The U.S. Department of the Treasury sends your money through a safe electronic transfer directly to your bank or credit union account or the Direct Express card account. Your personal information is not sent over the Internet.

Are electronic payments safe?
Getting your federal benefit payments electronically is safer than paper checks. A paper check can be stolen from your mailbox and cashed without your permission. With electronic payments, your money is on time, every time.

How can I help ensure my money stays safe with electronic payments?
Once you have switched to electronic payments, you can rest easy knowing you will get your money in a safe, secure way. To help ensure your money remains protected from identity thieves and other criminals, safeguard your personal information by following these three tips:

  1. Be wary of anyone who calls or emails saying they are from a government agency and asks for personal information.
  2. Never give out your Social Security Number or other personal information to anyone unless you are the one who initiates contact and you know who you are dealing with.
  3. Regularly check your bank or credit union account or Direct Express card account activity to ensure there are no unexpected transactions.

For more information on protecting yourself from identity theft and other financial crimes, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft Site at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.

How will I know my money is in my account each month?
With electronic payments, your money will be in your bank or credit union account or posted to the Direct Express card account on payment day each month. You can count on it. If you have the Direct Express card, you can sign up at www.USDirectExpress.com to get free text, phone or email alerts when your money goes into your card account.

Are there fees with the Direct Express card?
The Direct Express card is a no - or low-cost prepaid debit card. It is possible to use the Direct Express card for free. You can pay bills, buy things and get cash back from the cashier when you buy things anywhere Debit MasterCard® is accepted for free. You can also sign up for free deposit and low-balance alerts. For information on fees and features or to sign up for free alerts, visit www.USDirectExpress.com.

Do I have to pay my bills and buy things electronically once I switch to electronic payments?
No. This change to the way federal benefits are being paid only affects how you get your money. How you pay your bills or buy things - by check, cash or electronically - is up to you.

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