Direct Express Card vs Direct Deposit

One of the most often asked questions from those receiving government benefits is whether to select the direct express card option or get their benefit payment direct deposited into their bank checking or savings account. If you are not sure why this question is important, here is some background. The US Treasury Department, which is in charge of sending benefit checks to eligible recipients – like Social Security and Veterans Affairs Benefits, made a rule recently that required all federal benefit payments to be sent via electronic payments starting in March 2013. This was done for obvious reasons – to save money on postage and mailing and reduce the incidence of checks being lost in the mail.

"sign up for direct express prepaid card"

As a benefits recipient, you have two options to comply with this directive. You can either select to have your payments deposited into a Direct Express Debit Card account  - or you can have your payment sent via direct deposited into your checking or savings account with your local bank or credit union. If you are receiving check payments and do not select an option, you will automatically be enrolled in the direct express program and your payment will be sent to a direct express credit card which you must then sign up for an account to be able to get your money. Therefore, if you do not want the government choosing how you should receive your benefits check, then you have to select one of the two options provided. The Direct Express card program is very well run by Comerica bank with less fees and great customer service.

Based on how the program has run thus far, one can say that adding this as an option to the traditional checking account has been a success for seniors. And since the program is not laden with tons of fees and charges, it almost runs as a debit card, which is what you would want in a program that is targeted at people on fix income who cannot be burdened with unnecessary fees and charges.

Government Debit Cards and Fraud

Why are prepaid debit cards issued by the U.S federal government or States the target of increasing internet fraud and scams? For example, when you go to the Eppicard website, you are hit with alarming warnings about Phishing. Similarly, like the Eppicard, the Direct Express card is a target. The federal government issues the direct express card to pay federal benefits to recipients like Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits. The card is issued by Comerica bank under license with MasterCard. The Direct Express Debit card is the other option available to receive federal benefits if you are not doing direct deposit into your checking or savings account. However, in recent months, a lot of scammers have targeted direct express card holders with Phishing emails.

Part of the reason is that the scammers know that a large majority of those using the direct express debit MasterCard are seniors and may not be technology savvy. As a result, they are more likely to become alarmed by Phishing emails that claim that their Direct Express account is blocked and that they have to take immediate action to unblock the account. Comerica bank seems to be aware and concerned about this fraudulent activity and are taking action through the Direct Express Website – warming cardholders to be careful and protect their account information. The question is whether this information is getting to the intended target. You should contact the Direct Express customer service if you get a suspicious text or email asking you to provide your card or account information.

"debit card fraud"

One possible explanation as to why government debit cards are prone to fraud may be because the card holders may think it is secure because it is a card issued by the government. They have this false sense of security in the protection of from the government regarding their personal information and trusting that nothing suspicious will happen. However, the government is as vulnerable to phishing and other electronic and internet attacks from criminals as private companies are. In fact, the government may actually react slowly to incidents that say a private company whose reputation depends on protecting data. So, there is no reason for these cardholders to be careless with protecting their cards or personal information. In addition, since some cardholders use public computers or internet connections to log into their accounts, they are more likely to expose themselves to thieves who are waiting to harvest their information for personal gain.

If you are a holder of any government prepaid card, like SNAP benefits, Unemployment Benefits Eppicard, WIC, TANF, Medigap, Supplimental Income, Veterans Affairs pension, Social Security Debit, etc, you should take steps to protect your private information knowing that the government is slow to react when there are breaches. Don’t wait until something bad happens before you have to react. That time may be too late. Besides, it takes a lot of time to recover money lost through identity theft or phishing. Save yourself all that hassle and future paperwork by learning more about how to keep your government debit cards, personal and confidential information as safe as possible. The video above will show you how.