Replacing Lost or Stolen Government Checks:

Expedited Service Versus Costs and Risks

GGD-77-65: Published: Jul 19, 1977. Publicly Released: Jul 19, 1977.

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The Department of the Treasury and other agencies are developing data on the timeliness, costs, and risks of various alternatives for replacing lost or stolen checks with a minimum of hardship for the recipients and without incurring excessive costs and risks for the government.

Because the Supplemental Security Income Program serves the needy, Treasury expedites its claims for replacement checks. Safeguards built into the regular check replacement system to prevent double payments are bypassed. Check replacement time averaged 12 days for claims receiving expedited service. A new system implemented in April 1977 was to have replacement checks delivered within 4 days after a claim is filed, but it is too early to tell if the system will meet this goal. Check replacement time for other programs, including Social Security and Veterans, ranged from an average of 22 to 85 days. Treasury is taking steps to expedite the normal check replacement process, but the resulting replacement time frame may still not be satisfactory. Provision of administrative machinery needed to expedite check processing in these other agencies would entail an undetermined expense. In addition, bypassing the safeguard of determining whether an original check has been cashed would result in unnecessary replacement checks being issued in these programs. About 30 percent of the claims filed in 1976 were either abandoned or denied. Recovering duplicate payments could be slow and uncertain.

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