WOODLAWN, Md. - Actor Ricardo Montalban will be promoting the benefits of direct deposit to senior citizens on television and radio later this summer.

In an alliance to increase usage of the automated clearing house network, the National Automated Clearing House Association and the Social Security Administration have hired Mr. Montalban to promote the method of payment.

Officials said that direct deposit offers elderly recipients convenience, especially during times when they are unable to travel to a bank, as well as cuts down on the potential for fraud.

"We've had Mr. Montalban do a number of scripts that espouse the benefits of the ACH, but we also had him talk about its reliability and safety," said Michael D. Johnson, the Social Security Administration's director of payment and recovery policy.

This latest marketing attempt by the alliance follows a highly successful campaign last year with actor Gavin MacLeod, of "Love Boat" fame. His public service announcements were credited with boosting the number of new enrollments for direct deposit at least twofold in recent months.

In a three-month period ending in January, 500,000 recipients signed on to direct deposit, joining nearly 26 million other people who have funds deposited electronically.

"These public service announcements that we've been doing with Nacha have been the most popular in our history at Social Security," said Mr. Johnson.

He hopes to continue the successful marketing drive by working with banks to seek support for the remaining 18 million pensioners who get paper checks.

The television and radio spots are slated to start in September and run through next January. - Compiled by Tracey Tucker and Steven Marjanovic

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