21st Judicial District Attorney's Office


Worthless Checks Division




Procedure for Taking a Check:


It is vital 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:

  1. Is the check properly dated?
            Checks must be dated the same day they are issued. Worthless checks which are post-dated cannot be prosecuted.

  2. Is the signature legible?
    Do NOT accept previously signed checks. Have them signed in your presence and compare with driver's license or
             other I.D.

  3. Is the address complete?
             Require a permanent street address, not a P.O. box number, unless you know the writer.

  4. Can you confirm identity?
              Every kind of I.D. can be forged. The most reliable are the ones with physical descriptions, photos, etc. If you are 
              suspicious, 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, he may be caught off guard and give the wrong information.

  5. Do written amounts and numbers correspond?
        Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies.

  6. Is the I.D. used recorded on the check?
    Record the type of I.D. and I.D. numbers on the check as well as the initials of the clerk who accepts the check.


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 shiny, tacky, raised letters. This is the best indicator of a copied check.


Procedure for When a Check is Returned


There are certain procedures you must follow before this office will accept a returned check for prosecution:


  1. The check must be presented to the bank for payment, even if you know it will not be honored, and stamped by the bank with the reason for its dishonor.

  2. You must send written notification to the check writer informing him or her of the reason the check was not honored. The written notice must be sent  certified mail, return receipt requested. A sample letter is provided in the left column. This sample letter shows what information must be included. Be sure to keep a copy of your letter to the check writer. If the check has not been paid 10 days after the issuer receives the notification letter, you must personally bring it to the district attorney's office and furnish the following. 

                   - The original check with the bank flag or notation indicating the reason it was not honored
                   - The signed receipt from the certified letter or the correspondence (unopened) marked "refused" or "unclaimed." 
                   - A copy of your letter to the check writer


Procedure When the Check is Turned over to the Prosecutor's Office

When you bring in a check, it will be logged in and a search will be made to see if the maker has any other worthless check offenses pending. Your check will be combined with any previously filed offenses to expedite your restitution. If there are no additional cases pending, the office usually notifies the writer that a case is about to be filed against him. If he does not make restitution and pay the processing fee, prosecution will begin.

The Worthless Check Fee Act was passed by the Legislature to defray some of the prosecution expense and require the worthless check writer to help bear the cost of his misdeed. Because of the worthless check fee, it may cost the issuer up to double the amount of the check. After filing, there could be additional expenses including fines and court costs.


Hopefully, this segment explains the importance of your role in obtaining the necessary information to enable this office to control the worthless check problem and provide you with the restitution you deserve. If you have any questions or problems, please contact the district attorney's office. We will be glad to help in any way.





Check Complaint Form

The check complaint form may be printed and filled out from home but must be delivered to the district attorney's worthless check division in person. Faxed or mailed forms will not be accepted.


Check Complaint Form

Sample Letter

A notification letter must be sent to the check writer, certified mail, return receipt requested, before the case can be prosecuted.


Sample Letter