Federal checks soon electronic, not paper Starting March 1, people who receive benefits from the Social Security Administration, the Supplemental Security Income program, the Veterans Administration, and Railroad Retirement and federal employee pension plans will no longer be able to receive a paper check. Opponents, though, point to high fees for the debit-card option, confusion as seniors try to use ATMs and debit cards for the first time, and fears that the new electronic system will make personal identity theft easier. The Treasury Department has hired a public relations firm to publicize the March 1 deadline and try to persuade the 5 million people still receiving paper checks that electronic banking is a good idea. [...] Runyan argues there is a reason so many seniors and disabled people haven't signed up for the electronic program despite the looming deadline. Hardships citedRunyan questioned taking "someone who isn't even participating in the banking system" and make him or her figure out a piece of complicated machinery and remember a personal identification number or PIN. While Runyan's group is supported by the Envelope Manufacturers Association - a group with a vested interest in continuing the tradition of paper checks - it's also reaching out to groups concerned with privacy, legal and convenience issues.