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District Attorney's Office - Bad Check Program

Passing a Bad Check is a Crime poster

Each year merchants lose millions of dollars to bad checks. Bad checks affect everyone, pushing the costs of goods and services higher. As you know, they can be devastating to small businesses. Make no mistake; unlawfully issuing a worthless check is a crime.

The Check Enforcement Program is designed to assist merchants in recovering losses from intentionally written bad checks. The Program is FREE to all victims who accept a bad check within Siskiyou County.

It is designed to handle dishonored checks marked “Insufficient or Non-sufficient Funds,” “Account Closed” and “No Account” that are passed in Siskiyou County.

Our primary goal is to assure full restitution for the victim - including a service fee - without adding to the financial burden of the criminal justice system.

Merchants in Siskiyou County benefit from the Program because they receive restitution without paying any fees.

First-time bad check writers benefit from the opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution by completing an offender education course. However, if the person fails to respond to the Program, the case will be referred for prosecution review.

Finally, an improved economic climate in Siskiyou County helps us all, businesses and individuals alike.

If bad checks are a concern for your business, we encourage you to participate. Please take a few minutes to explore these pages to learn more about the Check Enforcement Program. Learn how this Program can benefit you. Then feel free to register and use the Program

The Bad Check Program Explained

Bad Check Program - Program Overview

When a person receives a bad check, they are required by California statutes to notify the check writer. If the check writer resolves the check at this point, it is no longer an issue.

However, if the check writer refuses to make restitution, the check can be turned over to this Check Enforcement Program. The check writer now has two choices: comply with the requirements of the Program or face possible prosecution.

Because this is a diversion Program, there is a strong incentive for check writers to comply. They pay full restitution and the required fees or face possible prosecution. For the victim the process is easy; victims submit the original check attached to a completed Check Complaint Form. Multiple checks (from the same check writer) may be attached to the same form.

From that point on, the Program works directly with the check writer to obtain restitution. Besides paying the full amount of the check, the check writer is required to pay the service fee incurred by the victim as well as to pay the administrative cost of the Program. Finally, they are required to complete the Check Writer’s Educational Course.

If the check writer does not comply with the requirements of the Program, the case will be referred for possible prosecution. If your check is not prosecutable, you may then wish to consider turning the check over to a private collection agency or seeking recovery through other civil remedies.

Benefits for the Entire Community

While the primary goal of the Program is returning more to businesses and individuals who have lost money to bad check crime, there are aspects of the Program that help all of us.

Check offenders pay all the costs of the Program, so victims pay nothing. No county money or tax money is used to pay for this Program. That means no costs for merchants, taxpayers or county government.

Fewer Bad Checks

Another important goal of the Program is fewer bad checks being issued in the first place. Prevention is preferable to prosecution.

Click the following topics to learn more about how we work to help merchants and other victims avoid accepting bad checks and how we work to help bad check offenders avoid writing them.

Bad Check Program - Prevention

The Check Enforcement Program puts a significant emphasis on preventing bad checks. The first line of defense against bad checks is the merchant and the person who accepts the checks. The program provides information for merchants to help them identify and avoid bad checks in the first place. These include:

  • Signs like the one above that indicate a merchant participates in the District Attorney's Check Enforcement Program
  • Guidelines for handling all checks and especially bad checks better.  Both of these elements are part of the merchant's Bad Ceh Protection Kit, available - at no cost - when you register with the Check Enforcement Program.
Bad Check Program - Restitution

The primary goal of the Check Enforcement Program is to recover money lost to bad check crime. It is very important that the bad checks referred to the Program meet basic requirements. The Program Guidelines, a publication that is part of the Bad Check Protection Kit, will explain those requirements in detail.

Once a check is accepted into the Program, we contact the check writer by letter and phone. The check writer is required to complete the requirements of the Program that include:

  • Pay full restitution of the bad check(s)
  • Pay the service fee that the victim has incurred
  • Pay a Program administrative fee
  • Complete the Check Writer’s Educational Course

If all the requirements are met, the writer avoids potential prosecution. If the check writer does not comply with the Program requirements, he or she faces potential prosecution that could result in a criminal conviction.

Returning Recovered Funds

Within seven days of receiving restitution from the check writer, the Program will issue a check to the victim that includes the recovered check amount plus a service fee. The Program returns 100% of the amount recovered on behalf of the victim. Again, it costs nothing to participate in the Program. Bad check writers pay the entire cost of the Program.

Bad Check Program - Education

All check writers are required to complete an educational course that teaches them how to get and keep control of finances. It is proven that these courses lower the number of repeat offenders.

Fewer repeat offenders mean fewer bad checks.

The four hour course goes far beyond how to balance a check book. The class stresses that writing bad checks is a crime. There is a section devoted to handling a checking account responsibly including exercises on balancing and reconciling a checking account.

After that, the course examines how to budget and plan for all kinds of expenses, how to stretch dollars, and how to save money in all segments of a person’s finances.

The material is presented in a helpful manner that treats the person’s bad check(s) as a financial injury and explains how to recover from that injury in a way that encourages the person to improve the way he or she handles money. This is the same Check Writer Educational Course that has been praised and used by District Attorneys across the country.

Bad Check Program - Prosecution

The Check Enforcement Program is designed to allow bad check writers an opportunity to resolve their bad check crime and avoid a possible criminal record. The Program provides a win/win situation for everyone involved, including the person who wrote the bad check.

If a bad check writer elects to ignore this opportunity, they face possible prosecution and the real possibility of fines, court costs and even jail time.


The District Attorney wants people to understand this office considers check crime a serious matter.

The size of the check is not a deterrent. Even small checks are subject to prosecution if the check writer refuses to make restitution and complete the requirements of the Check Enforcement Program.

Bad Check Program - Merchant Registration

You must be registered with the Check Enforcement Program.

This allows us to communicate with you more efficiently and speeds the whole restitution process.

If you have not yet registered with the Check Enforcement Program, it is important that you provide basic information regarding your company. You can Register On-line or download a Registration Form from the District Attorney's Resource Center.  You need only register one time but, if any of your company information changes, please inform our office.

When you register you will receive a Merchant Number that you should use on any communication with the Program. That will help us speed up the processing of your check cases and disbursement payments back to you.

Bad Check Protection Kit

By registering with the Check Enforcement Program you will also receive FREE, a Bad Check Protection Kit--pictured above.   This packet contains everything you need to help avoid bad checks in the first place as well as instructions on how to submit a bad check to the Program.

Bad Check Program - Guidelines - Check Tips

Tips for Handling a Check
What to Look for When You Accept a Check

If you want to protect yourself from losses due to bad checks, there are certain "rules" you must follow that can have a big impact on your success.  Many of the most important rules apply at the moment you accept the check for payment.  State statues, local requirements and simple practicality also influence what can or cannot be done to recover a loss from a bad check.

There are some steps you should always take when accepting a check.  We've developed a simple acronym --SANDI--to help people remember the steps.

S - Signature

A - Amounts

N - Number

D - Date

I - ID

Double Check the Signature.  Watch the person sign the check. Pre-signed checks are often trouble. Compare the signature against a photo ID that contains the person’s signature. A Driver’s License is best - and record the Driver’s License number. Student ID numbers and Military ID are also good identifiers that you should get if possible.

Compare the Amounts.  If the amount written in numbers and the amount written in words don’t match, the bank won’t accept it. Carefully read both versions of the amount. If they don’t match, don’t accept the check.

Check Number.  It’s a fact that most bad checks are written on new accounts. Be especially aware of checks that seem to be on a new account (i.e. numbers in the "low 100’s" or "low 1000’s").

Today's Date.  Post-dated checks do not qualify for this Program. Make sure the date on the check matches the date you accept it.

Complete ID.  It is important that you get as much identification as possible. At a minimum you MUST get the following:

  • Name
  • Address (a street address is best)
  • City - State - Zip
  • Phone Number
  • Drivers License, Military or Student Number
Bad Check Program - Guidelines - Identification

The Importance of Verified Information

Being able to actually identify a check writer can be critical in prosecuting a bad check case. If a check case ends up in court, the person who accepts the check must be able to identify the check writer.

This requires some measure of proof.  Reasonable proof can be:

  1. The person accepting the check verified identity using Photo ID.
  2. The person accepting the check personally knows the check writer.

The person who accepts the check MUST be noted and put their initials or employee number on the check.

Bad Check Program - Guidelines - Submit a Check

Steps on Submitting a Bad Check

Registration

If you have not yet registered with the Check Enforcement Program, it is important that you provide basic information regarding your company. (See the Merchant’s Registration Form in the District Attorney Resource Center below.) You need only register one time, but if any of your information changes, please inform our office.

Before You Refer A Check To This Program

Prior to referring a check to the Program, victims are required to notify the check writer that a check has been dishonored and demand immediate payment of the check plus your posted returned check service fee. This must be done by certified or registered mail. If, after 10 days, the matter has not been satisfied, you may refer the check to our office.  We have provided a Sample Demand Letter in the District Attorney's Resource Center below.

Preparing Checks For Referral

  • Enclose the original check with a completed Check Complaint form from the District Attorney Resource Center below.  Make a photocopy of the check(s)s you are referring (both sides) for your files.
  • Each check writer you refer to our office for enforcement must be accompanied by a Check Complaint form.  This form lists all the information needed to process the bad check. It is important that you fill out as much of the information as possible to assure effective enforcement. (If you do not know a piece of information you can still refer the check.)
  • Please write or print information clearly.  Checks are often very difficult to read.  One of the reasons for filling out a Complaint Form is to assure we can read names, dates and amounts accurately.
Bad Check Program - Guidelines - Eligible Checks

Eligible Checks

Most are eligible for the Check Enforcement Program. These include checks returned because of :
  •  “Insufficient ” or “Non-sufficient Funds”
  • “Closed Account”
  • “No Account”

Ineligible Checks

Some checks are not eligible for the Check Enforcement Program. Checks that do not qualify include:

  • Counterfeit or forged checks or checks marked Refer-to-Maker
  • Stop Payment checks • Checks passed outside Siskiyou County
  • Checks received in the mail • Post dated, pre-dated or altered checks
  • Agree-to-hold checks
  • Checks as payment on an open account
  • Two-party checks
  • Checks missing amount, signature or date
  • Checks taken when both parties knew there were insufficient funds at the time of the transaction
  • Checks older than 90 days

Follow Up

We will keep you informed about your checks as they pass through the Program. You will either receive the money due you or we’ll return the check with an explanation of why we were unable to prosecute.  If a check(s) is deemed prosecutable, you will be informed of what steps you must take as part of the prosecution process.  We will do our best to make sure your bad checks are handled efficiently and promptly.  If you have questions about this Program or any bad checks you have submitted, call toll-free: 1-888-296-1393.

Bad Check Program - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do I pay for the District Attorney’s Office to enforce payment of my check?  Nothing!  This service is free to merchants and other victims of bad checks.  The Check Enforcement Program requires the check writer to pay the victim the full amount of the check plus the service fee the victim incurred as a result of the bad check.  The check writer also pays the administrative costs of the Program.

How do I register for the Program?  You can register on-line or by calling the Check Enforcement Program at 1-888-296-1393.  You will receive your Merchant’s Number via U.S. Mail.  As soon as you are registered, you can begin to submit bad checks you have received.

If I have stores in another county, can I also submit the bad checks passed at those stores?  For a check to qualify it must have been physically passed within Siskiyou County.  Bad checks passed in other counties may be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for the county in which they were passed.  Not all counties have a Program similar to the District Attorney’s Check Enforcement Program.  Contact the local District Attorney’s Office to see if you can submit the check to them.

When will I receive the money the Program recovers?  Any restitution – including a victim’s service fee – that is received by the Check Enforcement Program is passed on to the victim within seven days of receipt of payment from the check writer.

Why can’t I submit any check that was refused by the bank?  Certain checks are not eligible for the Check Enforcement Program.  Some of these are considered civil matters.  Some checks are considered more serious criminal matters and the check writer is not eligible for a diversion program and must face prosecution.  Some bad checks are impossible to prosecute because proper identification was not taken at the time of the transaction.  Some 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 Check Enforcement Program, submit it anyway.  If the check does not qualify, it will be returned with an explanation of why it did not qualify.

What can I do about bad checks that don’t qualify for the Check Enforcement Program?  If your check does not qualify for the Check Enforcement Program you may consider turning the check over to a private collection agency or seeking recovery through other civil remedies.

What do I do if I think a check is forged?  Forged checks should immediately be submitted to your local law enforcement agency.

Why do I have to contact the check writer first?  It is good business practice to give a check writer an opportunity to make a check good.  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 he or she fails to respond within ten (10) days, you should immediately submit the check to the Check Enforcement Program.

Why can’t the District Attorney’s Office take all the non-complying check writers to court?  Checks are a legal document.  Checks must be complete and the various elements such as signature, address, and other identification must be verifiable.  That’s why it is so important that merchants follow the Program Guidelines when they accept any check.

What can I do to make sure a check qualifies for Program?  The Program Guidelines that are provided on this site outline the steps that a person should take to ensure that a check is handled properly at the time of the transaction.  If any of these steps are overlooked, the check may not qualify for the Check Enforcement Program.  Please download a copy of the Program Guidelines and share it with all management and personnel who handle bad checks.  Go over your store policy for handling bad checks - in detail.  If you need help developing a solid set of check handling policies, please contact the Check Enforcement Program.

Why can’t I get the posted service fee I normally charge for a returned check?  The Check Enforcement Program is allowed by law to require check writers to pay the service fee that was incurred by the victim.  

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.

What can I do about a bad check that is returned because the Program can’t prosecute the case? When a check is returned by the Program, a letter will accompany it that states the specific reason it could not be enforced.  If your check does not qualify for the Check Enforcement Program you may consider turning the check over to a private collection agency or seeking recovery through other civil remedies.

Bad Check Program - Contact Us

If you wish to FAX, write or call the Check Enforcement Program, use the information below:

Call Toll Free:   
1-888-296-1393

Toll Free FAX:   
1-800-704-5415

Contact us by e-mail at:
info@hotchecks.net

Address:   
District Attorney's Check Enforcement Program
PO Box 986
Yreka, CA 96097

Explore other related County offices by using any navigation, either the District Attorney Navigation or the Navigation across the top of the site.

District Attorney Resource Center

Resource Title Downloadable File Type
Bad Check Program - Merchant Registration Form Download File Application
Bad Check Program - Sample Merchant Demand Letter Download File Guide
Bad Check Program - Check Complaint Form Download File Other
Bad Check Program - Merchant Bad Check Sign Suitable for Posting Download File Other