March 6, 2000             No: 00-38

Contact: Chuck_Blankenship        Phone:  907.465.5930

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Labor Offers Direct Deposit for Unemployment Benefits
Option Eliminates Delays in Filing for Benefits, Waiting in Line, Cashing Checks

Eligible unemployed workers can now choose to have their benefits automatically deposited into their checking or savings account through a new service being offered by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOL). DOL has added a direct deposit option to its automated benefit paying phone system called VICTOR.

"This eliminates cost and delays of printing and mailing checks, and gives unemployed workers what they need -- instant access to cash benefits when they're out of work," said DOL Commissioner Ed Flanagan.

To sign up for direct deposit, callers phone VICTOR and, using a self-assigned personal identification number, choose option 5 on the menu. VICTOR directs them to enter a 9-digit bank routing number, plus a bank account number, both easily obtained through their banks or typically printed on personal checks. VICTOR asks callers to choose either their checking or savings account for direct deposit. For the security of first-time users, electronic banking laws require a test transaction to verify banking information. Once verified, usually within 14 days, benefits are available within 24 hours of settlement for the duration of the claim. In almost all cases, direct deposit delivers benefits faster and more safely than if delivered by mail.

"Phone calls from desperate unemployed workers during the high unemployment season, concerned about missing or late checks, were all too common," Flanagan said. Now direct deposit offers convenient solutions to the long experienced obstacles of check loss, displacement, and delivery delays. It is simple, takes advantage of existing technologies, and increases self-service.

Direct deposit is available to VICTOR users in Anchorage at 277-0693, in Fairbanks at 451-6126, in Juneau at 586-4650, or outside these areas toll-free, 1-888-222-9989.

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