WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA) today launched a nation-wide campaign to help its members reassure their customers that they will continue to receive their federal benefits checks after March 1st.
The awareness campaign is in response to efforts by the U.S. Treasury to compel all recipients of federal benefits to select an electronic payment (direct deposit or debit card) by the March 1st deadline. However, Walt Henderson, Director of the Go Direct campaign for the U.S. Treasury, has stated in various press reports that Treasury cannot force recipients to accept electronic delivery methods. In fact, in a New York Times article dated January 10 Henderson was quoted as saying, "We don't have the authority to change their payment method without their permission."
FiSCA is providing in-store, digital and online materials to help its members communicate with their customers about the options they have for receiving their federal benefits.
"The reality is that recipients who have not signed up for electronic payments will still receive a paper check," said Joseph M. Doyle, Chairman of FiSCA. "Nevertheless, there is a great deal of confusion among our customers as to what is going to happen after March 1st. A significant segment of our customers have told us they don't want to receive their federal payments electronically. For them, paper checks work best, and they are looking to us for solutions. They need to know they do not have to select one of Treasury's preferred options. Checks will still be mailed. In addition, financial service centers have an array of options that can better meet customers' needs."
Other Treasury officials have reaffirmed that recipients will continue to receive paper checks after the March 1st deadline. For example, during a hearing held last fall before the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security, Richard Gregg, Fiscal Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury, repeatedly stated that Treasury would continue to issue Social Security benefits via paper check after March 2013 to those individuals who had not signed up to receive their benefits electronically.
FiSCA member companies provide basic financial services to millions of Americans on a daily basis. Increasingly, their customers are looking to them for answers related to how to continue receiving their government payments. They don't have or want a bank account because they are too expensive. Likewise, many find debit cards to be confusing, restrictive and costly. Consequently, they continue to demand payment via paper checks. The FiSCA-sponsored campaign will educate consumers to their different options.
"We view this awareness campaign as an essential customer service initiative," continued Doyle. "Our customers have questions when it comes to receiving federal payments, and we have the answers."
FiSCA, founded in 1987, is the national trade association for more than 6,500 individual financial service centers across the United States. FiSCA member locations are used by more than 15 million customers each year to conduct wide variety of financial services including check cashing, money orders, money transfers, and electronic bill payment services, automatic teller machine access, government benefit and payroll payments, small dollar short-term loans, electronic tax preparation, prepaid debit cards, deposit acceptance services, public transportation fare and token sales, motor vehicle license plate and title distribution, postage stamp sales and numerous other services. For more information, please visit www.fisca.org.
SOURCE Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA)