A program is coming to more and more Indiana counties to assist with losses from bad checks and help rehabilitate first-time offenders
Businesses, even doctors’ offices, get checks that bounce – often or just occasionally. In recessionary times like these, maybe your office is seeing an increase of “insufficient funds” notations.
The ISMA has learned about a new program to help you recoup dollars lost because of a bad check for services you delivered. While not yet available in every Indiana county, this FREE service operates in several larger counties – and more counties will likely be joining soon.
The program is not a collection agency but a diversion program, offered through a national company called Corrective Solutions and a Louisville-based company, AdventFS.com. The firms’ agents track down the bad check offenders, get them to make restitution and attend classes to correct their bad behavior – in exchange for avoiding criminal prosecution and court fees. The offender must pay for the educational classes; there is no cost to the taxpayers for the service.
How does it help businesses? “You get 100 percent restitution back to you,” said Laura Fitzgerald, territory manager with Corrective Solutions. The check-writer must reimburse the amount of the bad check, plus any bank fees involved.
How’s it working so far?
The ISMA discussed the success of the programs with a representative from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Patrick O’Grady, bad check coordinator. O’Grady reports that Marion County has collected more than $4 million in restitution since inception of the program in 2006. While some offenders are prosecuted, about 16 to 20 a week make full restitution.
“Prosecutors in each county must approve of the program,” O’Grady advised. But Corrective Solutions and its subsidiaries seem to have little difficulty with that step; the company is now operating in 25 states.
To utilize this service
If your county is among those cooperating with Corrective Solutions or AdventFS.com, you need to take just two actions to get their agents working for you on your next bounced check.
- Send the bad check writer a certified letter advising that their check was denied for insufficient funds. Use the last address known to you. “If your letter comes back undeliverable, you can still turn to our program for assistance because you made the good faith effort to contact the person,” said Fitzgerald.
- If the letter nets no payment or result, contact your county prosecutor’s office to request a Bad Check Crime Report form. You simply enter your contact information and the amount owed, then return the form to the address indicated.
No contract or minimum amount is needed to participate. “And if you use the service only one time, that’s not a problem,” O’Grady added.
However, acting quickly is important. Send the certified letter as soon as possible.
“The longer a check is out there, the more difficult it is for us to follow through,” Fitzgerald noted.
Upon filing a report form, businesses receive a code that allows them to go online to check the status of their cases. Typically, a business receives restitution in four to six months.