Bad checks cost Louisville Metro businesses millions of dollars annually. Collecting payment for these checks is, at best, a time-consuming problem. At worst, they can be devastating to a small business and account for higher prices for goods and services.
Unlawfully issuing a worthless check is a crime. The County Attorney's Bad Check Recovery Program can help you collect payment for bad checks at no cost to you. Because it is a pre-trial diversion program, it helps keep down the costs of the judicial system. Also, it benefits the check writer by enabling restitution without criminal charges. However, if the check writer does not participate in the program, prosecution can begin.
The goal of the Bad Check Recovery Program is to get full payment for the bad checks your business receives.
How the Bad Check Recovery Program Works
The County Attorney's Bad Check Recovery Program returns money to the victims of bad checks, including reasonable return check fees. Check writers have strong motivation to cooperate in order to avoid prosecution. For you, participation is easy.
Users of the Bad Check Recovery Program must complete the Bad Check Complaint Form (click here to download) and provide our office with a copy, front and back, of the original "bank stamped" returned check. These may be brought or mailed to our office.
A 10-day letter is issued to the check writer stating that if the face value and fees are not paid within this period, criminal prosecution will begin.
These bad check payments are to be made to our office only (NOT TO THE MERCHANT).
If payment is not received within two weeks after the 10 days have expired, you should call our office and request that a warrant be printed. The merchant must then come into the office and sign the warrant within two weeks.
Once the warrant is served, a pre-trial date will be set. Our office will attempt to collect the face value and fees of the check without your presence in court. However, if there is a trial, your testimony may be needed and a subpoena will be sent for your appearance as a witness for the Commonwealth.
For the checks that our office have collected (face value and all fees) a reimbursement check will be sent to you.
Types of Checks That Qualify for the Bad Check Recovery Program
Types of Checks That are Ineligible for the Program
- Checks stamped by the bank ACCOUNT CLOSED, NO ACCOUNT, UNABLE TO LOCATE and NONSUFFICIENT FUNDS (NSF).
- For checks returned REFER TO MAKER, HELD FUNDS, OVERDRAFT, UNCOLLECTED FUNDS HOLD, NO DEBITS ALLOWED, and UNAVAILABLE FUNDS, you must have a statement from the bank showing the status of the account on the date the check was issued.
- Checks must have a bank stamp showing presentation to the bank within 30 days of the issue date on the check.
- Prosecution of check writers should begin as soon as possible after the check was issued.
- The statue of limitations is one year for checks under $500 and is considered a misdemeanor. Checks over $500 are felonies and do not fall within a statute of limitations.
- Post-dated or held checks
- 2-party checks, stop-payment checks (unless merchant holds a bingo license)
- Checks for which both parties knew there were insufficient funds at the time of the transaction.
- Check was issued as payment on a loan, as part of an agreement to pay or an open account.
- The identity of the check writer is not known.
- There is no amount or signature on the check.
- Frozen or blocked accounts
- Checks that have P.O. Box addresses
- Checks written on corporate/business accounts (Unless you provide verification from the Secretary of State's Office that the person who signed the check had the authority to do so).
Rent Checks: UNLESS you give possession of the property in exchange for the check, i.e. keys, first months rent, OR the check was written in response to a threat of eviction. In all other circumstances the rent check is considered as payment on an account and is civil in nature. You should contact the Civil District/Small Claims Division of District Court at 502-595-4475.
How to minimize Bad Checks:
- Always ask to see the check writer's driver's license or state ID card. Always get official photo identification;
- Compare signature on ID to signature on check and compare ID photo to the check writer;
- Make sure you are the one who writes the DL #, date of birth, race and sex on the check, not the check writer;
- Verify that the imprinted check address with the address on the ID;
- Never accept a counter check.
- If they don’t have a driver's license or state ID card, you should not accept the check.
- There is NO requirement for you to accept the check.
- At worst, you lose a sale, but you do not lose merchandise and get stuck with a bad check.
For your purposes, it is a good idea to keep copies of checks, forms, and any correspondence to and from the check writer. Once the check has been submitted to the Bad Check Program, it may be necessary to contact you for further information about the check and check writer.
Jefferson County Attorney
Bad Check Program
Jefferson Hall of Justice
600 W. Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202
8AM - 5PM
Monday -- Friday