How much do I pay for the Prosecutor’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 full amount of the check – plus a service fee – 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 Program?
You can register on-line or by calling the Check Enforcement Program at 1-888-894-8225. If you register on-line, you will receive a Merchant’s Registration Number by return email. If you register by phone, you will receive your Registration 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 state, can I also submit the worthless checks passed at those stores?
For a check to qualify it must have been physically passed within Kootenai County. Worthless checks passed in other states may be submitted to that county’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for the county in where they were passed. Not all states and counties have a program similar to the Check Enforcement Program. Check with the local Prosecuting 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.
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 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. 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 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 worthless checks that don’t qualify for the Check Enforcement Program?
Checks that fall outside the boundaries of the Check Enforcement 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, with the help of a private attorney or through a collection agency.
What do I do if I think a check is forged?
Forged checks should be immediately submitted to the Sheriff’s Office or local Police Department.
Why do I have to contact the check writer first?
In Kootenai County, the law requires that the victim make an attempt to get restitution before referring the check to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Beyond that, it is just good business practice to give a check writer an opportunity to make a check good, before you submit it to the Prosecuting 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 fifteen (15) days, you should immediately submit the check to the Check Enforcement Program.
Why can’t the Prosecuting 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 can not be verified, it becomes difficult or impossible to successfully prosecute the case. 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 prosecution?
The Guidelines that are provided on this site outline the steps that a person should take to insure that a check is handled properly at the time of the transaction. If one or another of these steps are overlooked, the check may not qualify for the Check Enforcement Program. Even if a check technically qualifies for prosecution, overall case loads in the Prosecuting Attorney's Office may preclude a particular check case from being prosecuted.
Please download a copy of the 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 our office.
Can I get a service fee for the worthless check from the Program?
Yes. The Check Enforcement Program can require the check writer to pay the for handling the worthless check. This is a requirement of the Program that check writers must comply with to satisfy their responsibility. If they fail to reimburse the victim fee of $10.00 – even if they pay the full amount of the check – they may still be subject to prosecution.
Why can’t I get the posted service fee I normally charge for a returned check?
The Check Enforcement Program is bound by law to require check writers to pay only the $10.00 victim fee.
Can I put more than one check on a 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 worthless check that is returned because the Program can’t prosecute the case?
There are several reasons that the Check Enforcement Program might not be able to enforce restitution: the check writer has moved and can not 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. You will be notified by letter that states the specific reason the check could not be accepted. At that point, the victim can pursue the matter in small claims court, with the help of a private attorney or a collection agency.
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 Check Enforcement Program, the check writer is given the opportunity to participate in the pre-trial diversion program or face possible criminal prosecution. Because the worthless check is now part of a legal proceeding (in either instance) it must be resolved through the Check Enforcement Program.
Merchants that accept payment for a worthless check that has been submitted to the Check Enforcement Program can be barred from further use of the Program