The Go Direct® Campaign Reaches Out to ETASM Providers
By Shirley Hopkins, EFT Strategy Division
The Financial Management Service (FMS) originally issued 31 CFR Part 208 (Part 208) in September 1998 to implement the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). Part 208 stated that "any individual who receives a federal benefit, wage, salary, or retirement payment is eligible to open an Electronic Transfer Account (ETASM) at a financial institution that offers such accounts." The ETA ensures that individuals who are required to receive federal benefit payments electronically have access to an account at a reasonable cost and with the same consumer protections available to other account holders at the same financial institution. Today, nearly 400 ETA Providers or financial institutions nationwide provide this service to more than 13,300 account holders.
Part 208 was amended in December 2010, to require that federal benefit payments be delivered by EFT or direct deposit. People newly enrolling for federal benefits must receive their payments electronically, and people currently receiving federal benefits by paper check must choose an electronic payment option by March 1, 2013. Recognizing the importance of the ETA Program, FMS is working with ETA Providers throughout the country to spread the word about this new rule and the change to how federal benefit payments are being delivered.
The Go Direct® public education campaign that provides Americans with the tools they need to transition to electronic payment options recently began reaching out to ETA Providers to update the online ETA database. The database can be found at www.eta-find.gov. Providers are asked to review their profile and confirm its accuracy. To date, more than 100 letters have been mailed in connection with this effort.
Maintaining accurate profiles ensures that federal beneficiaries looking to open an ETA can find a Provider in their area. As a trusted source of financial information, ETA Providers can join the campaign and help inform federal benefit recipients about their electronic payment options under the new rule and encourage them to switch promptly.