Many businesses are frustrated with collecting from customers who write hot checks. The District Attorney’s Office has the statutory authority to assist those who receive checks with insufficient funds. This is done without expense to the business. A Hot Check Coordinator will be assigned to work with businesses in an effort to assist them in collection of these checks. It is important to stop small criminal acts to prevent individuals from going on to bigger crimes.
In our office, Lisa Morris handles the worthless check collections in East Feliciana Parish. Melissa Cornette and Donna Rogers handle them in West Feliciana Parish.
Procedure when taking a check…
It is critical that you stress to your employees the importance of being thorough when accepting a check. If your business has set a policy for all customers, then no one should have any reason to feel they are being treated unfairly. It is a good idea to post a “check-list” where a cashier can see it easily. It should include at least the following:
- Is the check properly dated?
Checks must be dated the same day that they are issued. Worthless checks that are post dated cannot be prosecuted.
- Is the signature legible?
Do NOT accept checks previously signed. Have them signed in your presence and compare with driver’s license or other ID.
- Is the address complete?
Require a permanent street address, not a P.O. Box number, unless you know the writer.
- Can you confirm the identity?
Every type of ID can be forged. The most reliable ones are the ones with physical descriptions, photos, etc. If you are suspicious, then ask the writer to hand you the license. While it is in your hand, ask his address and/or birth date. If it is not his license, then he may be caught off guard and give the wrong information.
- Do written amounts and numbers correspond?
Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies.
- Is the ID used recorded on the check?
Record the type of ID and ID numbers on the check as well as the initials of the clerk who accepts the check.
Checks to avoid!
The following checks usually cannot be prosecuted as worthless checks:
- A post-dated check
- A stop-payment check
- A two-party check
- A check more than one year old
- A check for less than $5
- A check for which partial payment has been received
- A check given in exchange for a returned check
- A check marked “refer to maker”, “drawn against uncollected funds”, or “unable to locate account”
- A check which does not identify who accepted it
- A check not presented to the bank within 30 days of issuance
- A check for which no 10-day notice was given
Clues for detecting bad checks…
- Be careful of personal checks with low series numbers. About 85% of all uncollected worthless checks are new account numbers between 101 and 150.
- Check the finish on the black magnetic computer numbers on the bottom. Magnetic ink is very dull — never shiny.
- Look for at least one perforated edge. All checks except government or computer-produced will be perforated.
- Look for multi-colored checks from large corporations, but beware of “Xerox color.” Watch for tacky, shiny, raised letters. This is the best indicator of a copied check.