Despite advances in banking systems, bad checks still get passed and people still lose money. A bad check, or hot check, occurs when someone gives a check as payment for immediate goods or services. A check is considered dishonored if insufficient funds are available, the account is closed or there is a hold on the account.
Type of Bad Check
If the check was returned for insufficient funds, you can either attempt to redeposit the check or contact the check writer to give adequate opportunity to honor the check. If the check was returned on a closed or held account, you can contact the writer, a collection agency or your local district attorney.
If you are unable to collect on the check, one option is to turn your check over to a collection agency. This route is beneficial to business that may deal with numerous dishonored checks on a quarterly basis.
District Attorney Hot Check Department
Contact your district attorney’s hot check department. Complete any required forms and affidavits and provide the office with the returned check and a bank statement showing any assessed fees. The offender will be given an opportunity to pay the money back before criminal theft charges are filed. Each case will be reviewed according to the procedures of the local office to determine whether the offense is criminal or civil.
Small Claims Court/Civil Suit
If the district attorney’s office determines the case is civil in nature, you can bring a civil suit. An attorney and the amount of debt owed will determine whether a civil suit will be in your best interest. For small amounts, attorney’s fees and court costs likely will be much higher than the actual debt.
Avoiding Bad Checks
Many businesses have discontinued accepting checks completely to avoid dealing with returned checks.