Writing a bad check, even of a small amount, is a crime in all 50 states. Non-sufficient funds' cases, where the check bounces due to lack of money in the account, are prosecuted both as misdemeanor and felony cases every day. However, to successfully prosecute a bad check a specific process must be followed. Even in check fraud law, the writer is considered innocent until proven guilty and must be given a chance to rectify the situation.
Write a letter to the person who passed you the bad check. Inform him that they need to pay the check in full plus any resulting fees. Give them 7 to 10 days to pay the debt in full. Send the letter certified so you have proof it was received.
Write another letter to the check writer if you do not hear back from her. This time, be much more firm. State that you chose to believe it was an accidental bad check, but because they will not cooperate and pay the debt, you are considering this an intentional bad check. Tell them they must pay you within five days, or you will be going to your local district attorney's office. Send the letter certified mail.
Visit your local district attorney's office if you do not hear back from the debtor. Bring your correspondence with you and a copy of the bad check. He will take the case over, and likely prosecute the check writer. Alternatively, you could call the district attorney's office but an in-person visit is likely to at least get you a meeting with an assistant who can push your case through more quickly.
Contact the local police immediately if you receive a forged, stolen or counterfeit check rather than making any contact with the check writer, as this is usually a felony or even federal crime.
- Do not accept partial payment unless you are willing to not prosecute the bad check as a crime. Accepting any kind of payment against such debts usually invalidates your right to later get the law involved in your case.
- Remember that most bad checks are the result of poor account management, not intentional fraud. Be firm but polite in the first letter.