Hit the jackpot? Americans say "no thanks" to giant check, "yes" to direct deposit, according to national poll
Washington, D.C. - (Oct. 23, 2007) - The popular image of a lottery or sweepstakes winner receiving a giant paper check is out-of-date, according to a new national poll. Three to one, Americans say if they hit the jackpot, they'd take the money by direct deposit, reflecting the country's growing familiarity with the safety and convenience of electronic banking.
Yet when it comes to their everyday payments, many Americans do not take the same precautions with their money, according to the poll, sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Go Direct® campaign. Direct deposit eliminates check fraud and helps protect people against other financial crimes, but more than one in four Americans - including 12 million Social Security and other federal beneficiaries - still get their salary or other regular payments by paper check.
Treasury data show that nine out of 10 problems with Social Security payments are with paper checks, not direct deposit, so check recipients are significantly more likely to face unexpected delays in obtaining their money. Treasury encourages senior citizens, people with disabilities and others receiving federal benefits to safeguard their money by signing up for direct deposit for free by calling (800) 333-1795 or visiting www.GoDirect.org.
Financial Crimes A Worry for Many Americans
Worries about financial crimes are widespread, according to the poll, with nearly half the respondents - 45 percent - saying they or someone they knew had been a victim of identity theft. That compares to 40 percent in a similar poll a year ago.
Yet most respondents said signing up for direct deposit is an effective way to safeguard their finances. Two-thirds of the survey respondents (63 percent) said getting a paper check in the mail was risky in terms of loss or theft, compared with just one-fifth who said the same of direct deposit (19 percent). Respondents were also four times more likely to cite direct deposit as the best safeguard against identity theft than paper checks (72 percent vs. 17 percent).
In addition, the vast majority of people who already use direct deposit said they have had a positive experience (96 percent). Most direct deposit users said that if forced to switch to paper checks, they would be concerned about financial crime and other problems, including identity theft (83 percent), loss or theft of their check (75 percent) or delays in receiving their payments (67 percent).
So why don't more people use direct deposit? Surprisingly, the lack of a bank account isn't the issue - nine out of 10 respondents in the latest poll said they have a checking or savings account. Many people say it simply isn't available to them. Forty percent of check recipients in the poll said their employers don't offer direct deposit - yet half of that group said they would choose it if they had the option.
Results are from a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,406 adults, ages 18 and over, conducted September 12 - September 17, 2007, by KRC Research. The margin of error for the overall study is +/-- 2.6 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.