Butte County's bad check unit closing its doors

Apr 10, 2015 11:37 AM by News Staff

After more than 20 years in business the Butte County Bad Check Unit will stop accepting new checks at the end of the month.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey says the modern banking system has resulted in a sharp decrease in the unit's caseload. The bad check unit is receiving approximately 75 checks per month, compared to 500 a month at its height.

Ramsey has posted the following statement to the unit's website:

Since 1993 the Butte County District Attorney's Bad Check Unit has recovered and returned to local merchants over $4.6 million in bad check losses. The accompanying fees, paid by the bad check writers, covered the cost of the unit, ensuring this program continued at no cost to Butte County tax payers. It was, by any measurement, a successful service provided to local businesses.

However, over the past several years the unit's ability to support itself has diminished far below its operating cost. With the advent of immediate electronic funds transfer, increased acceptance of credit/debit cards and private check guarantee services, the number of checks received by the bad check unit has declined considerably. At its height, the Bad Check Unit received on average more than 500 new checks per month. We now receive approximately 75 checks per month. The decline of checks directly affects fees which offset the cost of the unit.

Regrettably, the Butte County District Attorney's Bad Check Unit will stop accepting new checks April 30, 2015. The unit will continue to operate with its current staffing until June 30, 2015. At that point, the Butte County District Attorney's Financial Crimes Division will manage the remaining collection and payment process on the few remaining open cases.

In the meantime, all merchants should evaluate their individual policies on check acceptance. Options include referring bad check writers to private collection services, calling local law enforcement on checks over $950.00 or to discontinue accepting checks as a form of payment.

It is with great reluctance and sadness that I take this action, but the financial realities of a more modern banking system and a lack of prosecutorial resources forces this move. Thank you for your understanding. Please pass this information onto your membership.


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