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 light brown envelopes carrying Social Security, tax refunds, and many other government checks to millions of Americans will not be arriving anymore.
Instead, the Treasury Department is switching to white envelopes this month for most checks sent by its Financial Management Service. It is easier for mail-sorting machines to read bar codes on the white envelopes, said a Financial Management spokeswoman, Alvina McHale. By presorting the envelopes with bar codes, the agency can get a discount on postage.
Supplemental Security Income payments will continue to be sent in blue envelopes, but most other payments will switch to white.
McHale added that the agency would prefer not to send out checks at all, and that it is urging people to arrange for automatic deposit into their accounts. They can do that by calling 1-800-333-1795.