WASHINGTON (8/10/11)--The U.S. Treasury’s Go Direct program this week reminded partners that reducing the risk of benefit check theft was one of the reasons behind the switch to all-electronic federal benefit payments, and encouraged benefit recipients to switch to electronic benefit payments well ahead of the March 1, 2013 deadline. The U.S. Treasury began its Go Direct program, which encourages Americans to switch to direct deposit, in 2004. The Go Direct campaign notes that direct deposit enhances safety and convenience. The Treasury officially ended the use of paper checks for the payment of newly filed Social Security and other federal benefit payments on May 1. All federal benefit payments will be made electronically beginning on March 1, 2013. “Criminals can steal checks out of mailboxes, leaving people who rely on that money for essentials--such as medicine, rent or groceries--in a difficult situation,” the Treasury said. Credit unions and other Go Direct partners can use provided news copy, fliers and posters to promote direct deposit. Go Direct suggested that these educational materials could be used during October’s Crime Prevention Month activities. Go Direct also reminded organizations with employees that are close to retirement that National Save for Retirement Week, which will take place from Oct. 16 until Oct. 22, is the perfect time to inform them of the coming changes in federal benefit payments distribution. Go Direct is providing newsletter copy, social media tips, and a direct deposit checklist to ease the federal benefits enrollment process. The Credit Union National Association is a Go Direct national partner and supports the check-safety and cost-savings goals for the program. For more information on Go Direct, use the resource link.