WASHINGTON – Warning: Don’t toss out any unfamiliar white envelope without giving it the once-over. It might be a check from the government.
Those familiar light brown envelopes carrying Social Security, tax refund and many other government checks to millions of Americans won’t be arriving anymore.
Instead, the Treasury Department is switching to white envelopes this month for most checks sent by its Financial Management Service.
It’s easier for mail-sorting machines to read printed bar codes on the white envelopes, explained FMS spokeswoman Alvina McHale. By presorting the envelopes with bar codes the agency can get a discount on its postage.
Supplemental Security Income payments will continue to be sent in blue envelopes, but most other payments will switch to white with USA printed in gray on the right-hand side of the envelope.
The FMS mails checks from centers in Austin, Texas; Philadelphia; Kansas City, Mo.; and San Francisco.
In advising its staffers of the change, the Postal Service said the white envelopes will include checks from the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Veterans Affairs, Office of Personnel Management, and Railroad Retirement.
McHale added that the agency would actually prefer not to send out checks at all and is urging people to arrange for automatic deposit into their accounts.
They can do that by calling (800) 333-1795.