Even if you take precautions when accepting checks, you may still be given a bad check from time to time. When you have provided a service or product to someone, you deserve to be paid. There is nothing quite as frustrating as discovering the bank returned a check you accepted due to insufficient funds or a closed account. Writing a check on a closed account or having insufficient funds may constitute a crime in Georgia. In addition, this may give rise to a civil claim for damages. Civil damages for writing bad checks are provided for and fully outlined in OCGA 13-6-15. At Howe & Associates, our experienced collection attorney can help you file a lawsuit to get the money owed to you. However, there are a few steps you should take first.
Make a Call to the Check Writer
While many customers write bad checks knowingly, in some cases they simply make a mistake. They may have balanced their checkbook incorrectly. Or, there may have been a mistake with the paycheck from the job. We encourage business owners to call the customer first. They can inform them that their check was returned and allow them to pay what they owe. If they cannot pay you by check, you could ask them to pay by cash. Plan on contacting the customer more than once, but always follow best practices when calling and don’t call in the early morning or evening hours. Most importantly, never threaten the debtor when speaking to them, but instead, be polite but firm.
Send a Certified Letter
Unfortunately, sometimes making a phone call doesn’t work when someone has given a bad check. So, the next step is to send a certified letter to the writer of the bad check. In the letter, you should request repayment and inform them of the next steps you plan to take if they do not pay. Make sure you keep a copy of the letter and records of any interactions between you and the check writer.
Hire a Professional When Given a Bad Check
If someone has given a bad check to you and you are unable to collect the money owed you through a letter, it is time to seek out the help of a bad check collection attorney. With the help of a lawyer, you can sue the check writer for as much as double the check amount, up to $500.
To learn more about what to do when you are given a bad check, contact Howe & Associations to schedule a visit with one of our experienced bad check collection attorneys.