On Friday, direct deposit to replace federal benefits checks Feb 25, 2013, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Starting March 1, 2013, direct deposit through a bank account or a Treasury-issued Direct Express Debit MasterCard® will be required for anyone receiving federal benefits payments. If you receive Social Security, VA or other government pensions through paper checks, now is the time to set up electronic payments.

Electronic payments have advantages over paper checks for recipients:

–Funds are usually available sooner.

– Lower risk for identity theft.

– Individuals who receive federal benefits payments electronically report significantly fewer delays or problems.

–In the event of a disaster or emergency situation, funds are more likely to be available.

If you already receive federal benefits payments through direct deposit, there will be no change for you.

If you are planning to apply for federal benefits, you must receive funds electronically from the time you apply. This change began on May 1, 2011.

If you currently receive federal benefits via paper check, you must switch to electronic payments by March 1, 2013. Come into any Bank of American Fork branch and we’ll walk you through switching to electronic payments.

If you do not wish to receive payments through a bank account, or do not sign up by March 1, 2013, you will automatically be enrolled to receive payments through a Treasury-issued Direct Express Debit MasterCard, designed to help make electronic payments readily available.

Here’s how to make the switch:

Step 1: You will first need to set up a bank account if you do not have one.

– Bank of American Fork has a personal checking account to fit your needs. Our basic CheckSmart™ Free checking account is easy to use and has a host of free features: a VISA® check card, online banking, online bill pay, eStatements, direct deposit, automatic transfers and more. The only thing you pay for is checks, though your first order of bank-logoed single-copy checks is free. Some banks charge for this type of account, but it’s still free at Bank of American Fork.

– Another great account option for customers at least 55 years old is Bank of American Fork’s CheckSmart™ Senior checking account. There is no minimum balance required and a discount on each order of checks. Other free features include no-fee money orders and cashier’s checks, a VISA® check card, online banking, online bill pay, eStatements, direct deposit, automatic transfers and more. And, as always, Bank of American Fork associates are here to help you with anything you need.

To set up an account or if you aren’t sure what type of account you want to open, please visit your nearest branch, call us toll free at (800) 815-BANK (2265) or email us at customercare@bankaf.com .

If you would like to apply for a personal checking account online, go to our personal checking page and select “Apply Now” next to your preferred account.

Step 2: Once you have an account, you will need your routing and account numbers for the Treasury to deposit your payments. Contact your bank for this information or find it on your checks, as shown:

Step 3: Enroll with the U.S. Department of the Treasury. There are several ways:

– Contact your bank, credit union, or savings and loan association.

– Enroll over the phone by calling the U.S. Department of the Treasury to sign up for direct deposit in English at 1 (800) 333-1795 or in Spanish at 1 (800) 333-1792.

– Go to the Treasury GoDirect website and click on “Get Direct Deposit.”

If you still feel concerned or have questions about switching to electronic payments, call (800) 815-BANK (2265) for more information about direct deposit.

You can find more information about this change at http://www.godirect.org/.

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