The purpose of this information is to aid you and assure you that this office will do everything possible to reduce the number of Hot Checks and the losses caused by them. Remember, Hot Checks can be controlled only with your help. If you are a merchant who needs to collect on "Hot Checks", please call the phone number above to obtain the information and/or documents necessary to complete the process.
Hopefully, this page will explain the importance of your role in getting the necessary information to enable this office to control the check problem and get you the restitution you deserve.
If you have any questions or problems, please contact my staff or myself. We will be glad to help in any way.
Checks To Avoid
The following checks usually will not be prosecuted as "HOT" Checks:
- A post-dated check;
- A stop-payment check;
- A two-party check;
- A check more than a year old;
- A check for which partial payment has been received;
- A check given in exchange for a returned check;
- A check which does not identify who accepted it;
- A check received in the mail;
- A check not presented to the bank within 30 days of issuance.
Procedure When Taking A Check
It is vital that you stress to your employees the importance of being thorough when accepting a check. It is a good idea to have a "checklist" where a cashier can see it. It should include at least the following:
- Is it dated today? Checks must be dated the same day they're given. Post-dated checks are not prosecutable.
- Is the signature legible? Do NOT accept checks previously signed. Have them signed in your presence and compare with the driver's license or other I.D.
- Is the address complete? Require a permanent street address, not a P.O. Box number unless you know the writer.
- 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 and while it's 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.
- Do written amount and numbers correspond? Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies.
- Is the I.D. used recorded? Record on the check the type of I.D. and I.D. numbers as well as the clerk's initials who takes the check.
Clues For Detecting Bad Checks
- Be careful of low series numbers on personal checks. About 85% of all uncollected "Hot Checks" are new account numbers between 101 and 150.
- Check the finish of the black magnetic computer numbers on the bottom. Magnetic ink is very dull - NEVER shiny.
- Check the first four magnetic numbers to the left of the account number. Arkansas has its own banking route number - 08 or 28.
- Look for at least one perforated edge. All checks except government or computer-produced will be perforated.
- Look for multicolored checks from large corporations, but beware of "Xerox" color. Watch for shiny, tacky, raised letters. This should never be and is the best sign of a Xeroxed Check.
Procedure: Check Is Returned
There are certain procedures you must follow before this office will accept a returned check for prosecution.
The check must be presented to the bank of payment, even if you know it will not be honored, and stamped by the bank as to the reason for dishonorment.
When a check is returned marked "Insufficient Funds" or "Account Closed", it should be delivered to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney as soon as practicable. It will not be necessary for the merchant to try to contact the check writer unless he desires to do so.
We will need:
- The original check with the bank flag or notation showing the reason it was not honored;
- The name, address, and phone number of the person who accepted the check and who can identify the maker;
- Specific identification of maker such as driver's license number, date of birth and physical description. (It will be necessary for you to supply this information on a form when you come into the office.) Whoever brings the check will be required to sign an Affidavit that the instrument is a Hot Check. This Affidavit will also be authority for the arrest of the check maker, if necessary.
Procedure: Check Is Turned Over To The Prosecutor's Office
When you bring in a check, it will be logged and a search made to see if the maker has any other hot check offense pending. If there is, yours will be combined with the one previously filed to expedite your restitution.
This office will notify the check writer that a case is about to be filed against them. If he does not make restitution and pay the appropriate fees, prosecution procedures will be started.
The Hot Check Fee Act was passed by the Legislature to defray some of the prosecution expense and require the Hot Check writers to help bear the costs of their misdeeds. An additional fee will also be collected by this office which will be paid to the merchant. After filing a case, there can be the additional expenses of a fine and court costs which can be several hundred dollars. Restitution will be collected at this office and forwarded to the merchant. After a check has been turned in to the Prosecuting Attorney, if a a check writer contacts the merchant about payments of the check, he should be referred to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Once a check has been turned into this office for collection, a courtesy letter will be sent to the check writer requesting payment. This letter may not be sent for every check turned into this office if there are multiple checks. If payment is not made in the time provided, a warrant for their arrest may be issued. It is the check writer's responsibility to make contact with this office or to send the money in the time allowed on the letter.