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Several banks have taken this route already, including Citibank and Chase. Western Union also offers electronic accounts through ATMs or its own offices, at $7.50 minimum.Conveyancing process is easy to perform is an expert performed it.These accounts are expensive. The account holder pays three layers of fees - to the ATM owner, the check casher and the bank.The total cost to collect a single Social Security check could range from $7.50 to $19 or more, says the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) in Boston, Mass., a lobbyist on behalf of low-income consumers.

There's another issue here.When the Treasury announced its push for direct deposit, one of its goals was to bring the poor into mainstream banking, where financial services generally cost less than they do on the street.The Treasury's new, low-cost Electronic Transfer Accounts will be handled by banks alone, with no check cashers involved.Account holders will receive their government payments through tellers or bank ATMs.

But what's the incentive for bankers to offer an ETA?If they can make more money by starting their own electronic accounts, in partnership with check cashers, that's what they'll do, says Margot Saunders, managing attorney for the National Consumer Law Center.The proof is what's happening with Western Union and others. They're using the government's push for direct deposit to sign up the poor for accounts that cost them more.

There's another problem with funneling government benefits through check cashers.The recipients of the checks become captive customers for other expensive financial products.For example, take payday loans. These loans attract people who need small sums of money until their next paycheck or government check.

The loans typically cost $15 for every $100 borrowed, but the fee can run as high as $30.Over two weeks, that's an annualized interest rate of 391 percent to 782 percent, according to the Consumer Federation of America.Consumer groups think the Treasury should refuse to pay government checks through direct-deposit accounts that are handled by check cashers. An alternative might be bank ATMs in local stores.

The Treasury is considering whether to impose the ban or to regulate the fees.While it ponders, many banks wait. ''They're not going to launch a product, only to find it affected by regulation,'' says Treasury official Donald Hammond.

But the National Check Cashers Association is planning to launch a direct-deposit deal with Citibank, charging recipients in the $12 range. Hans says he's confident that government regulation won't interfere.Tip to the unbanked: Do not sign up. You're better off cashing paper checks.Jane Bryant Quinn welcomes letters on money issues and problems but cannot offer individual financial advice. Send to: 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071-9200.Conveyancing process is easy to perform if performed by expert persons.