California recipients of social security income and insurance payments, who do not have a bank account, can now enroll to receive their monthly payments via a new Mastercard debit card program called Direct Express.

The United States Treasury Department created Direct Express to counteract the fact that annually nationwide there are more than 1.4 million queries regarding paper checks and more than 700,000 of these payments are lost each year.

The Treasury Department has partnered with Comerica Bank to create the Direct Express debit program. According to agency officials there is no cost to enroll, and users have the ability to secure the bulk of the services connected with the card at no charge.

Once enrolled, individual’s monthly payments are automatically deposited on the card. People are given one free ATM withdrawal per pay period, or an unlimited number of cash-back transactions at retailers or from any bank that accepts Mastercard. Additional ATM withdrawals are 90 cents each.

Individuals can enroll anytime in Direct Express online at www.usdirectexpress.com or by calling (877) 212-9991. Make sure that you have paperwork from the Social Security Administration (SSA) available, because information must be provided exactly the way it is listed in the agency’s database.

Those who are designated payees for SSI checks can enroll in Direct Express as well.
A continuing series of education programs will be held around the nation to teach recipients about the best way to utilize the cards.

While the Treasury and SSA are urging people to enroll, it is not mandatory to do so, and anyone who continues to want a paper check can keep that service.