Treasury opening X.25 network to Web users

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Using the Web to debit a consumer bank account does bring heightened risk, which seems to be understood at the Treasury Department.

People who elect to become enrolled at www.pay.gov will be given personal identification numbers or digital certificates, and the Treasury Department will validate payment-authorization information online by accessing check-validation services and address-verification databases. The ACH authorization aat www.pay.gov will be very controlled, Grippo emphasizes, noting that it would be a mistake to try to commit fraud against the Treasury Department.

Eventually, www.pay.gov is expected to become the central Internet collection point for hundreds of federal agencies, which will be able to integrate the portal's payment-processing functionality into their own Web sites used by the public. The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms division at the Department of the Treasury, for example, plans to use www.pay.gov to accept payments for excise taxes owed by spirits importers.

For the common man who may worry about authorizing payments on the Web, Grippo points out that ACH rules give consumers 60 days to dispute an ACH transaction, although corporations only have three days.

The new Web-based ACH processing may result in the government not having to hire so many people to handle paper checks, Grippo says. But the Treasury Department does anticipate having to expand its call centers to handle Web-based e-mail and chat for www.pay.gov.

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