After I submit a check to the Program, why can't I take the money if the check writer wants to pay the check off at my store?
Once a bad check has been submitted to the Bad Check Restitution Program, the check writer is given the opportunity to participate in the pre-trial diversion program or face possible criminal prosecution. Because the bad check is now part of a legal proceeding (in either instance), it must be resolved through the Bad Check Restitution Program.
Note: Merchants that accept payment for a worthless check that has been submitted to the Bad Check Restitution Program can be barred from further use of the Program.
What can I do about a worthless check that is returned because the Program can't prosecute the case?
There are several reasons that the Bad Check Restitution Program might not be able to enforce restitution: the check writer has moved and cannot be located, the check writer has died and the check is a part of an estate settlement, or insufficient identification was taken at the time of the transaction. Such checks will be held at the Check Enforcement Program in an inactive status. If we receive additional information about the check or check writer, the check can be re-activated and further investigation can take place. However, if you prefer, the check can be returned to you. At that point, you may wish to pursue the matter through small claims court, a collection agency, or with the help of a private attorney.
Can I put more than one check on a Check Complaint Form?
Yes. You can put multiple checks on a single complaint form BUT, all the checks on a single complaint form must have been received from a single check writer
Can I get reimbursement for a bank service fee from the Program?
Yes. The Bad Check Restitution Program can require the check writer to a pay service fee (up to $10 per check) to cover bank charges a victim incurs in handling the worthless check.
What can I do to make sure a check qualifies for prosecution?
Please see Guidelines for Handling Checks. These are the steps that a person should take to insure that all checks are handled properly at the time of the transaction. If one or another of these steps is overlooked, the check may not qualify for the Bad Check Restitution Program. If you have a question about a particular check case, please contact the Bad Check Restitution Program.
Why can't the District Attorney's Office take all the non-complying check writers to court?
Checks are a legal document. As such, they must be complete and the various elements such as signature, address, and other identification must be verifiable. If one or another part of a check is missing or cannot be verified, it becomes difficult or impossible to successfully prosecute the case. That's why it is so important that merchants follow the Guidelines for Handling Checks when they accept any check.
Why do I have to contact the check writer first?
California law does not require that the victim make an attempt to get restitution before referring the check to the District Attorney's Office. Nonetheless, it is just good business practice to give a check writer an opportunity to make a check good, before you submit it to the District Attorney's Office. Honest people make honest mistakes and by letting them know, you can save hard feelings and potentially keep a good customer. A Sample Demand Letter is provided on this site that is intended to be a cordial but firm notification.
If you have notified the check writer and they fail to respond within five (5) days, you should immediately submit the check to the Bad Check Restitution Program.
What do I do if I think a check is forged?
Forged checks should be immediately submitted to your Police Department or Sheriff's Office.
What can I do about worthless checks that do not qualify for the Bad Check Restitution Program?
Checks that fall outside the boundaries of the Program, usually take one of two possible paths. If the check is considered part of a civil matter, you can pursue the check writer in small claims court, through a collection agency, or with the help of a private attorney. If it an obvious criminal matter - for example, a counterfeit or forged check - it should be immediately referred to the police.
Why can't I submit any check that was refused by the bank?
Certain checks are not eligible for the Bad Check Restitution Program. Some of these are considered civil matters - not a criminal offense. Counterfeit or forged checks are considered more serious criminal matters and the check writer is not eligible for a pre-trial diversion program and must face prosecution. Other worthless checks are impossible to prosecute because proper identification was not taken at the time of the transaction or for other similar reasons. Still other checks do not qualify as valid payment instruments because of no signature or no amount entered.
Note: If you are unsure whether a check qualifies for the Bad Check Restitution Program, submit it anyway. If the check does not qualify, it will be returned with an explanation of why it did not qualify.
When will I receive the money the Bad Check Restitution Program recovers?
Restitution for bad checks collected by the Program will be mailed to you within seven (7) days of the date it was received.
If I have stores in another state, can I also submit the worthless checks passed at those stores?
For a check to qualify it must have been passed within Amador County. Bad checks passed in other counties or states may be submitted to the District Attorney's Office for that jurisdiction. Not all jurisdictions have this type of pre-complaint diversion program. Check with the local District Attorney's Office or Prosecutor's Office to see if you can submit the check to them.
How much do I pay for the District Attorney's Office to enforce payment of my check?
NOTHING! There is NO COST for this service to merchants and other victims of bad checks. The Bad Check Restitution Program requires the check writer to pay the full amount of the check - plus any bank fees - to the victim. The check writer also pays the administrative costs of the program, so it costs other taxpayers nothing as well.
How do I register for the Bad Check Restitution Program?
You can register on-line or download a Registration Form. After you register, you will receive a Merchant's Registration Number and a Merchant's Bad Check Protection Kit. As soon as you are registered, you can begin to submit worthless checks you have received.