Cherry Blossoms

Electronic Transfer Account

Frequently Asked Questions: for Recipients

As a federal payment recipient who currently receives payment by check, am I required to open an ETASM?

No. However, federal benefit payments must be paid electronically and as a recipient, you should select Direct Deposit to a traditional checking or savings account, or the Direct Express card, or open an ETA to receive your payments.

If I already have an account at a financial institution, can I sign up for an ETA?

Yes. The ETA is available to all individuals who receive federal benefit, wage, salary, or retirement payments, regardless of whether you have an existing account at a financial institution.

What types of consumer protections are available to me as an ETA holder?

ETAs will be subject to the same consumer protections available to other account holders at the same financial institution. For example, an ETA is federally insured and subject to the Truth in Savings Act disclosure requirements in Regulation DD and the electronic access protections found in Regulation E.

How quickly after a financial institution is designated as an ETA provider can that institution advertise the ETA to the public?

The Financial Agency Agreement must be signed by the financial institution and Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, as Fiscal Agent for Treasury.

The financial institution may begin to offer the ETA and advertise its availability to the public after the effective date indicated in the Financial Agency Agreement.

As an account holder, how can I withdraw all of my funds from an ETA if the balance is less than the smallest denomination available at an ATM?

You can use your debit card at a Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal if the financial institution is a member of an on-line POS network.

POS terminals are commonly found in many retail outlets such as grocery stores, service stations, and post offices, and are available for purchases in any amount.

Also, some financial institutions may offer over-the-counter cash withdrawals. These cash withdrawals may be made in any denomination.

Is it possible for me as an ETA holder to overdraw my account? If so, how much is a financial institution permitted to charge me for an overdraft?

Yes. It may be possible for an account to be overdrawn under very limited circumstances. The maximum amount that you can be charged for an overdraft in an ETA is $10.

This fee covers all overdrafts that may occur within a 24 hour period.

May a nursing home or other entity open an ETA in a capacity as a representative payee for one or more recipients?

No. An ETA must be owned by an individual. Therefore, a representative payee may open an ETA only if the representative payee is an individual.

Although corporations and other entities, including nursing homes, sometimes act as representative payees, they may not establish ETAs.

When using an ATM for a cash withdrawal, should I as an ETA account holder choose withdrawal from savings, withdrawal from checking, or some other designation on the ATM screen?

The ETA provider should determine which option you as an ETA customers should choose.

The financial institution must, at the time an ETA is opened, tell you which option you should choose when withdrawing cash from an ATM.

How can I as an ETA holder obtain account balance information?

Financial institutions may provide ETA holders with account balance information through a variety of methods: 1) through balance inquiry transactions at proprietary ATMs, 2) over-the-counter at the ETA provider's main office or branch locations, 3) through a combination of ATMs and over-the-counter, 4) over the telephone, and, 5) if you agree, through other electronic means.

Any of these methods may be used at the option of the financial institution as long as a minimum of four balance inquiries is provided to you within the monthly fee.

Also, as an ETA holder, you must receive a monthly statement.

Where can I find more information regarding my federal electronic payments?

You can contact the appropriate federal agency to receive more information regarding electronic payments.

Agency customer service telephone numbers:

  • Social Security Administration 1-800-772-1213
  • Department of Veterans Affairs 1-800-827-1000
  • Office of Personnel Management 1-888-767-6738
  • Railroad Retirement Board 1-800-808-0772

Or call:

  • The agency issuing your salary or wage payment.
  • The agency issuing your benefit or retirement payment, if different from the agencies listed above.

Where can I as a federal recipient find a listing of financial institutions offering the ETA?

Treasury made a list of participating financial institutions publicly available on September 15, 1999.

This information can be found at http://www.eta-find.gov or by calling 1 (888) 382-3311, or an ETA-recipient TDD, (877) FBN-KTDD (877) 326-5833).

Where do federal check recipients reside?

The majority of federal check recipients are concentrated in metropolitan areas across the country.

The top five cities in which check recipients reside are Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami.

In addition, over half of all federal benefit, wage, salary, and retirement payments are made in 10 states: California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Florida.

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