Relying on a check that ends up bouncing can set off a chain reaction of events that may cause serious economic harm to the recipient of the bad check. Writing a check with non-sufficient funds (NSF) is a crime punishable by fines and jail time. If receive a bad check and the check's maker refuses to make good on it, consider filing a police report.
Ask the check writer's bank for an original copy of the NSF check. The bank will forward the original to the police; maintain a photocopy for record-keeping purposes.
Obtain a copy of the bank statement for the account into which you attempted to deposit the NSF. Retain a copy, and prepare a copy for the police.
Compile any correspondence with the maker of the NSF check about the incident; the police will attach it to the criminal complaint affidavit. Do not continue to attempt collection after filing a criminal complaint.
Check the local county's district attorney's office to determine whether you should direct NSF check complaints to a police agency or to a check-enforcement program run by the prosecutor's office. If the latter, obtain any necessary forms to accompany the criminal complaint.
If filing with a police agency, prepare an affidavit that identifies the circumstances under which you accepted the check, when it bounced, what collection activity you attempted,and any other relevant facts. Include the original NSF check and copies of the relevant bank statements for verification.
Bring all documentation directly to the police department, and file it with an officer. Direct complaints to the local district court office for processing. Maintain copies of all materials submitted to the law-enforcement system.
- Avoid threatening makers of NSF checks with a criminal complaint; they could perceive this action as blackmail---especially if you or your bank demands a hefty "service fee" to recover costs in excess of actual damages.
- Each jurisdiction has slightly different prosecution standards. Before filing a criminal case, check with a local lawyer about the most appropriate way to recover the lost funds.