The Georgia Department of Labor will no longer mail out unemployment checks to Georgians.
Instead, the department will issue UI Way2Go Debit MasterCards, which become effective November 2. The last paper check payments will be mailed from Atlanta November 1.
Melissa Day, Resaca, said she welcomes the change. Day, who has been unemployed since January after losing her job with Mohawk in Dalton, has been receiving her unemployment benefits in the form of a check for the last two months. She said the switch should save a lot of time for her.
“I wouldn’t have to go anywhere to cash my check,” Day said. “It would just be on the card and I could just use the card.”
The complete switchover to electronic payment of jobless assistance offers a faster, more reliable, and more customer-friendly method of paying benefits, while at the same time making a huge dent in the expense of distributing the payments, according to Labor officials.
The state estimates that the elimination of paper checks will save the state approximately $990,000 annually.
Unemployment beneficiaries in Georgia have had the option of using direct deposit for their payments for several years and the Department of Labor said that approximately 70 percent of its jobless benefit recipient uses the direct deposit method. Those who want to continue with the direct deposit form of payment will be able to continue with that option.
Tory Roddy, Cave Spring, said she feels the debit card method will be safer for consumers. “If somebody steals your card you can cancel it quicker. I think it’s a lot easier, Roddy said. “Personally I don’t like carrying cash at all so I think it’s great.”
Several people were at the Rome Department of Labor Career Center on Wednesday who had already received their debit cards but the payment had not been deposited and were a bit miffed, thinking they already had funds available.
People receiving the cards will be able to register for alerts via email or other electronic means when deposits are made to their accounts and will have the ability to review their accounts online.
Once credits have been made to the beneficiaries account, the cards can be used just like any other debit card and there will be no charges to retailers when a customer uses the card at their location.