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Social Security debit card introduced

Date: 9/5/2008 6:36:31 PM

The U.S. Treasury has announced that Social Security beneficiaries can now sign up to receive their benefits on a special debit card, rather than by check or direct deposit.

While anyone receiving Social Security allocations can sign up for the card, its being touted as a solution for the unbanked. According to the federal agency, nearly four million Social Security recipients do not have bank accounts, including approximately 600,000 in the Western states, placing them at greater risk of check delivery delays due to poor weather, national or local emergencies, and other check related problems such as lost or stolen checks.

In Portland more than 58,000 paper checks are issued each month to Social Security and SSI recipients. Treasury says the debit card gives them a safer choice.

Information on the Direct Express Debit MasterCard will be mailed to 2 million Social Security recipients in 12 Western states during the month of September.

The card will be issued by Dallas’ Comerica Bank. There is no cost to sign up for the card and no monthly fee. Cardholders can make purchases and get cash back at no cost wherever Debit MasterCard is accepted. The Direct Express card can also be used to pay bills over the phone and Internet and to get cash at ATMs.

Anyone receiving Social Security benefits may sign up for the card by calling (877) 212-9991 or visiting

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