Victims of worthless checks may file a bad check crime report with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Bad Check Restitution Program for checks up to $5,000 provided that the case meets all other eligibility guidelines. Forged checks and checks over $5,000 should be reported directly to the local police agency. The Santa Clara County District Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program assists merchants in the recovery of their money. It also conducts classes in the law regarding bad checks and in good record keeping.
A Message From Jeffrey F. Rosen, District Attorney
"As your District Attorney, I’m always concerned about bad checks passed to local businesses. Bad checks cost merchants millions of dollars each year. Some of these losses are passed onto consumers, and result in increased taxes to cover the additional costs for law enforcement and prosecution.
To combat this problem, I have organized the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Bad Check Restitution Program to assist local merchants with bad check losses. The primary goal of the program is to obtain full restitution for the victim without adding to the financial burden of the criminal justice system.
First time bad check offenders are given the opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution by attending a mandatory intervention class, in addition to paying restitution. All of this is accomplished without any cost to the taxpayers.
Your interest and participation in this special program will benefit all law abiding members of the public and help your business improve its bottom line!"
Filing a Bad Check Crime Report
Cutting Your Losses As Easy As 1-2-3
- Make personal contact with the check writer; if you are unsuccessful, send a courtesy notice. The check writer has 10 days to respond and remit payment.
- If you do not hear from the check writer or receive payment, simply contact the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Bad Check Restitution Program at (877) 520-6137 for a bad check crime report.
- Fill out the bad check crime report, attach originals (you retain photocopies) of all checks and notification documents, such as return receipts and bank notices, and mail to:
Santa Clara County District Attorney
Bad Check Restitution Program
San Jose, CA 95159-6370
(Postal Address Only)
If you do not receive restitution within 60 days, contact the District Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program.
Why It Works
The Santa Clara County District Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program Works Because...
- Bad check crime reports are easy to file and follow-up action is prompt.
- Upon recovery, 100 percent of the face value of the check is returned to the merchants.
- There is no minimum dollar restriction.
- Bad check offenders must complete an educational class at their expense.
- The program operates at no cost to the county or the taxpayers.
Check Screening Tips
- Get a complete street address, not just a post office box number and verify the phone number.
- Note the check's date. Post-dated checks normally cannot be prosecuted.
- Be wary of new accounts.
- Make sure written and figure amount match.
- Observe the writer's signature and make sure the signature matches their I.D.
How to Determine Whether a Check Is Eligible for the Program
A check is ELIGIBLE if...
- The amount is no more than $5000 (or multiple checks do not exceed this limit). There are no minimum dollar restrictions.
- It was received in the Santa Clara County, deposited in a bank in exchange for goods and services presumed "good" at the time of acceptance.
- A "Courtesy Notice" is sent to the check writer allowing 10 days to make the check good.
- It is submitted to the program within 90 days from the date of the check.
- A photo I.D. (driver's license, state identification card) was recorded at the time of the transaction.
A check is INELIGIBLE if...
- It is post-dated.
- Both parties knew there were insufficient funds at the time of transaction.
- It is an out-of-state, two party, stop payment, government or payroll check.
- The identity of the check writer is unknown.
- There is no amount, date, or signature on the check.
- The check has not been processed by a bank.
- The check involves an "extension of credit" or was payment on an account.
Checks ineligible for the Santa Clara County District Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program may be pursued via small claims court process or by a private collection agency.
Check Acceptance Tips
- Institute a check acceptance policy. A clearly posted check acceptance policy for your employees and customers can go a long way toward reducing your losses.
- Confirm the date on the check. Post-dated checks are civil matters and are not accepted in the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Bad Check Restitution Program.
- Trust your instincts! If something doesn't seem right, ask questions or ask for another form of payment. You are not obligated to accept a check.
- The Bad Check Crime Report can be found on the District Attorney Forms page
Body of contents courtesy of Monterey County District Attorney's Office.