WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. government plans to switch to all-electronic Social Security payments by March 1.
The change has been underway since May 2011, when all new recipients were required to have their payments made electronically, CNN Money reported Wednesday. This is done through transfers into bank accounts or to "Direct Express" debit cards.
About 93 percent of payments are now paperless.
Recipients who have not set up electronic payment by March 1 will still get their checks -- along with a lot more pressure from the Social Security Administration to change their ways.
Officials say cutting and mailing checks costs 92 cents more per payment than electronic transfers. This adds up to $4.6 million a month for the 5 million people still receiving paper checks.
Fewer paper checks also means fewer checks to be lost, stolen or fraudulently cashed. But officials say recipients should be wary of identity thieves who redirect payments into other bank accounts and should never give out information like Social Security numbers over the phone.