December 2001/January 2002
Your government payments can now be deposited automatically into your account, thanks to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
When you open an Electronic Transfer Account, your money is automatically deposited into your account at the same time every month. Electronic Transfer Accounts are available for anyone who receives a federal benefit (SSDI, SSI, Retirement, Veterans, Railroad or military) and are offered to anyone, regardless of credit history. The only exception to this is if the financial institution closed a previous account because of suspicion of fraud.
This option is being made available because the U.S. Department of Treasury saw a need to provide access to a bank account that was accessible to everyone, even people who have a limited income or credit problems.
People with poor credit or low income often have limited choices of how their benefit checks are cashed. If your check is mailed, it could be lost, stolen or delayed in the mail, often causing hardship and making financial difficulties worse.
Electronic Transfer Accounts provide a valuable service. They eliminate paying check-cashing fees at supermarkets and other check-cashing stores. Knowing that your money will be automatically deposited into your account every month is also a reassuring feeling.
No minimum balance is required for Electronic Transfer Accounts and the only bank fee is a $3 monthly service charge. When you consider the cost of having your check cashed at a cash-checking store or at a supermarket, that is considerable savings.
Electronic Transfer accounts will cost $3 or less per month. Some providers offer lower fees.
Is my money protected?
Electronic Transfer Accounts are federally insured. Funds at the bank, savings and loan or credit union that you are using are federally insured.
Is the ETA a checking account?
Check-writing privileges are not provided with an electronic transfer account.
How do I access my money?
Electronic Transfer Account providers must allow a minimum of four free withdrawals every month. Some institutions may allow for more withdrawals. Transactions can be made in person at the bank. Some institutions offer access to an automated teller machine (ATM). ATM fees may apply.
Is there a minimum balance?
No minimum balance is required unless required by federal or state law. For example, some credit unions require that a balance of a membership share be maintained.
Will I have a record of my transactions?
You will receive a monthly statement that shows your account activity (deposits and withdrawals).
How do I sign up?
If you are interested in opening an Electronic Transfer Account, you can visit a bank, S&L or credit union where the ETA logo is displayed. Another option is to call (888) 382-3311 (TDD 877-326-5833) or visit www.eta-find.gov.
If you already have a checking or savings account, you can have your check automatically deposited at your bank, S&L or credit union. If you do not have an account, you can open one and ask for "direct deposit." Signing up for direct deposit is easy. Contact your bank, S&L or credit union for an application.
If these options do not appeal to you, or if opening one of these accounts may cause you hardship, then you can receive your checks in the mail. Some examples of hardship may include:
|Heather Spargo is a Benefits Coordinator in AIDS Project Los Angeles' Benefits Program. She can be reached by calling (213) 201-1409 or by email at email@example.com.|