DEFINITION of 'Electronic Transfer Account - ETA'

A bank account for federal payment recipients who do not have checking or savings accounts. Instead of receiving federal payments by check for Social Security, SSI, the Railroad Retirement Board, OPM retirement, VA benefits, DOL/Black Lung and civilian or military salary or wages, an ETA allows the recipient to receive his or her federal transfer payment by direct deposit, which is considered to be faster, more convenient and more secure than receiving payment by check.

BREAKING DOWN 'Electronic Transfer Account - ETA'

The ETA is a federally insured account and is available through those banks, savings and loans, and credit unions that have registered with the U.S. Treasury as ETA providers. Money can be withdrawn from the account over the counter, at an ATM or through debit card purchases depending on the account terms, but not through check writing. Investment companies, insurance companies and check-cashing companies cannot offer ETAs. Individuals can open an ETA regardless of credit history unless they have previously abused an ETA account.

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