COLLECT ON A COLD CHECK
Passing a bad check is a serious offense in Nelson County. The Nelson County Attorney’s Office will aggressively pursue those who write bad checks.
There is no cost to someone who needs to prosecute a cold check. The program aids local merchants for the losses they suffer from accepting bad checks.
If you have been given a cold check, please bring a copy of the check to our office. A letter will be sent to the person who wrote the cold check and they will have 18 days from the date our letter is sent to to deposit cash, a bank check or money order at one of the First Federal Savings Bank branches located in Nelson County. The Nelson County Attorney’s Office will then reimburse the merchant on a weekly basis for any funds recovered. If the check writer does not pay within eighteen (18) days of the date on the letter, criminal charges may be taken against the check writer.
A merchant may charge up to $50.00 for its time and efforts in dealing with cold checks. A merchant must inform the County Attorney’s office the fee that you charge or we will not know to collect it. You must also post in a conspicuous place in your store the fee that you charge for cold checks. You may pick up a sticker from our office.
Copies of checks may be brought into the office, mailed or faxed to (502) 348-0509. Or you may email your scanned checks to our office.
What is and what is not a cold check?
A “cold check” is a check written for property or services that is not paid by the bank. A bank may dishonor a check for a number of reasons, but the most common reasons are if the account is closed or there is no account at all or if there are insufficient funds in the account to cover the check. What is NOT a cold check? A check that is given for something other than property or services is not a cold check. Therefore, checks for rent, payment on a debt (other than child support), stop payment checks and third party checks are not classified (or prosecuted) as cold checks. You may still sue the individual in civil court, but this office cannot prosecute things that are not cold checks.
The types of checks this office cannot prosecute:
- Payment on account
- Signature not on file
- Stop payment
What do I do when I receive a cold check?
If a check comes back to you for closed account or insufficient funds, bring the original check to the County Attorney’s office as soon as possible. This increases the possibility that the check writer can be found. It also facilitates communication between merchants so you can make a better decision whether or not to accept a check from the person standing in front of you. Click here to see a list of recent writers. Finally, criminal charges on checks under $500 must be brought within one year after the date the check was passed. If you wait too long, we cannot prosecute the check. We will make a copy of the check and the original will be returned to you.
What if the writer pays me the check within the 18 days?
Do NOT accept payment from the check writer once you have brought the check into the County Attorney’s Office. Payment must be made through one of the First Federal branches so that the check can be cleared from the system.
What if the writer does NOT pay the check to me within 18 days?
- Return the original check to CA’s office to sign criminal charge for theft by deception
- The Judge will then electronically sign the criminal complaint
- The Defendant will be served by the sheriff. (To check service of summons, contact the Sheriff’s Office of the County in which the check writer resides.)
- The Defendant will appear before the judge at arraignment
- The Defendant will either plead guilty or may elect to go to trial
- Once the summons is issued, restitution and service charges shall be paid through the Circuit Court Clerk.
- Court Clerk will forward money to merchant once it is paid.
What if the writer wants to pay me after I have signed a criminal complaint?
DO NOT ACCEPT MONEY FROM WRITER – If you do, you will have to refund it to the check writer and it may torpedo the criminal case. Instead, tell writer to go to court on their appointed date to pay the check.
When will I get my money?
- When the writer goes to court, most will enter a plea agreement to repay the check.
- The Circuit Court Clerk will forward your money once the writer pays it.
- Sometimes, a judge may allow the writer up to 3 months to repay the check.
May I impose a service fee for my trouble?
Yes, but it is limited to $50.00. A sign must be conspicuously posted in the store. We have stickers available at our office to post in your store.
What can I do to reduce the number of cold checks I receive?
(a) Visit our web site daily. List of persons writing cold checks–Click here to see a list of recent writers.
(b) Training – Train your employees to gather accurate information at time check is taken
–From photo identification:
- SS Number — Required for summons in some counties (Jefferson)
- Driver’s license number
- Date of Birth
- Good address (a PO Box is not sufficient)
- Employee information on who accepted check
- Timely presentation of checks to County Attorney
What if I am subpoenaed to court?
(a) You do not have to go to court unless you are subpoenaed. If you are subpoenaed and you are the person who took the check, simply show up at the appointed time. If you cannot make it, make certain to call our office or the case could be dismissed.
(b) If you are not the person who took the check, find out who did. We need the actual clerk who took the check to testify in court as to the procedures s/he followed.
(c) If you have a videotape of the transaction and you are subpoenaed, please let us know as soon as possible.
Merchants may charge a maximum of $50.00 for a returned check. KRS 514.040 (4) (b). You must give notice of your policy of charging this amount in a conspicuous place, usually by posting a sticker that is provided by the County Attorney.
How are the fees collected and who pays for them?
(a) Before a Summons – The check writer pays with a deposit slip that is sent to them with their letter. The merchant will be reimbursed from the County Attorney’s program. The merchant will receive the amount of its check and the merchant fee.
(b) After summons—After a summons is issued, the Circuit Court Clerk collects the restitution and issues check to the merchant.
If someone forges the account holder’s name, the account holder cannot be prosecuted for a cold check. The person who made the check would be prosecuted for forgery and theft by deception. For this reason, it is very important that persons taking checks verify the identity of the person from whom they are taking a check.
*Have “pre-approved” check cashing lists where persons wishing to pay you by check have filled out an application and you have verified the information on the application and DO NOT TAKE CHECKS FROM ANYONE NOT ON THE LIST!
- Always verify the identity of the person presenting the check by photo i.d.;
- Make certain that the person standing in front of you is the account holder;
- Get a current address and telephone number;
- Obtain a social security number, drivers’ license number and date of birth;
If you know who presented the check (i.e. video or eyewitness familiar with the check writer) please contact our office.