Thanks to electronic check clearing, bounced checks happen more frequently these days. It is not unusual for folks to have an occasional forgotten draft that causes a check to bounce. Yet, a bounced check can set you back hundreds of dollars if the bounced check fees cause other checks to bounce, combined with the fees that vendors pile on. If you find it happening more frequently, you can take some steps to prevent checks from bouncing.
Five Things to Prevent a Bounced Check
- Check out your bank's overdraft protection. Some banks and credit unions offer a free overdraft line of credit that only kicks in in the event of a bounced check.
- Find out if your bank will allow you to draw from your savings account if an accidental overdraft occurs.
- Keep extra money in your account.
- Set up alerts in your online account to notify you if your balance drops below a certain number.
- Keep a calendar with recurring debits to your account so you remember when they are going to be withdrawn.
When a Bounced Check Becomes a Crime
Debit cards and credit cards have replaced many checks in day-to-day transactions. The best part is: what you see in your account is what you get. If there isn't enough cash to support the transaction, the charge will not process. There are still businesses that choose not to accept plastic because of the growing cost of fees, making checks necessary when you do not have available cash. A bounced check - if ignored or forgotten - can cause a series of problems. As mentioned earlier, the bank charges a fee, often up to $45 and then if the business or person you wrote the check to also charges a fee, you are forced to come up with the amount of the check plus anywhere from $60 to $100 in fees. When the fees are withdrawn, you could bounce additional checks, draining your account and creating a huge mess.
Your credit could also suffer from writing bad checks. Though a bad check does not usually appear on credit reports, if you fail to pay it or if you are placed in collections, your credit score WILL take a hit. Today, many employers require a credit check before they hire. If your credit suffers from bad check collections, you could miss out on a job opportunity.
You can also be charged with more serious overdraft crimes if the fees and check amounts are not paid within a certain time frame, such as 15 days. Plus, if the check amount is high, e.g., more than $750, you could be looking at a Class C Felony.
If you are charged with a bad check crime, get sound legal advice about how to approach it. Your job and your future could depend on getting the best outcome. Contact Steve Karimi today. With years of prosecution experience behind him, he can put his expertise to work for you.