One-quarter of the Americans who get Social Security benefits still go to their mailbox to get a check. U.S. Treasurer Anna Escobedo Cabral was in Des Moines this week and urged the credit union executives she addressed to encourage their clients to use direct deposit for their Social Security benefits. Cabral says the government still mails out 160 million paper checks every year to elderly or disabled Americans who quality for Social Security payments.She says it costs the government about 62 cents more to process and mail a check than it does to send those benefits electronically to an individual’s bank account. Cabral says that translates into 100-million dollars the government could save every year if everyone who gets Social Security benefits converts to direct deposit. Cabral says a paper check is a false sense of security.Cabral says checks are sometimes stolen from mail boxes. Some use a Social Security check to steal someone’s identity. And she says some people who go to a check cashing center to cash their Social Security check — rather than a bank — have been robbed. “We’ve had too many cases of that occurring,” she says. “And ultimately, checks get lost.””In all the time that we’ve been doing electronic transmission, we’ve never lost a single payment, but if you rely on paper checks you’re…30 times more likely to have problems with your payment than you would if you went over to electronic transmission.” Cabral is urging the nation’s financial institutions to talk to their clients about converting to an electronic funds transfer for their Social Security benefits. Cabral was in Des Moines Wednesday, speaking to a meeting of credit union executives.
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