I sent out four statutory notices for worthless checks today.
Over the past six years, we've had only ten checks returned from the bank unpaid; five of them in the past twelve months.
Bad checks are a form of retail theft and can be prosecuted by the local District Attorney, but I've never taken it that far. Until today.
My standard procedure is to call the customer and tell them their check was returned by the bank. When I actually get someone on the phone they are usually mortified and come in right away to "make good" on the check. Lately, however, I've been collecting NSF checks in my drawer. And pondering the Worthless Check Unit brochure from the local District Attorney's office that I've had in my desk for over a year. I don't even remember where I got it.
What did I learn?
- Anyone who receives a worthless check in Tuscaloosa County while transacting business can file a complaint.
- There is no charge to the victim to file a complaint.
- You CANNOT file a complaint if you have accepted a post-dated check or you have accepted partial payment for the check.
- The complaint must be filed within one year of the date of the check.
- If the returned check was stamped "Insufficient Funds" or "NSF" you must send a statutory notice to the person who signed the check via certified mail.
- If the check was returned stamped "Closed Account" you are not required to send a statutory notice.
- The exact wording for the statutory notice is printed on the brochure.
- If the check writer does not make restitution within ten days of the date of the statutory notice, you may file a complaint.
- After that, you wait. The DA's office will issue a warrant and attempt to collect. If an individual ignores attempts by their office to contact him or her and/or fails to make a restitution payment on time, the warrant issued in that individual’s name will be activated, and they may be arrested.
TodayI took the brochure out of my drawer and started typing.
No more Mrs. Nice Guy; the checks totaled over $400.