Worthless Checks Procedure

The Sauk Prairie Police Department investigates and assists local businesses and residents that have received worthless checks. The Villages of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac have local ordinances prohibiting the issuance of worthless checks. The police department may refer the case to the District Attorney’s Office if certain conditions are present, based on our criteria and investigation.

This office is not a collection agency and under law is subject to evidentiary and jurisdictional rules and limitations concerning civil forfeitures. This office must establish identification of the check passer beyond a reasonable doubt. Failure to establish such identification may lead to dismissal of the case.

The Sauk Prairie Police Department will assess a $25.00 fee to the writer of each check that the business presents.

PROCEDURE

If a check is returned to you stamped “Forgery”, contact the Sauk Prairie Police Department immediately. This is a serious criminal matter, which must be submitted quickly for investigation to assure successful prosecution. If a check is returned to you stamped “Insufficient Funds,” “NSF,” “Worthless” or “Account Closed’, you need to do the following:

  1.  Mail a certified letter (see letter template on page 6) to the issuer of the check, advising him or her that the bank dishonored the check and demand payment within five days. Mail to the last known address of the issuer.
  2. Once five days have passed after receipt of the letter, and payment has not been made, you can apply for prosecution against the check passer through the Sauk Prairie Police Department. You will need to file the following:a) The “legal” copy of the check. The complainant should retain copies for their records.

b) Notice of delivery of the certified letter by the U.S. Postal Service (green card) or the undelivered letter, and the receipt for the certification fee.

c) A copy of the certified letter.

Any worthless checks turned over to the Sauk Prairie Police Department for prosecution must be accompanied by police department’s “Worthless Check Information Sheet/Request for Prosecution.”

Specific changes that you should be aware of are as follows:

  1. The employee accepting the check must be identified by name. Terms such as “checker,” “salesperson” or “cashier” are not sufficient. The check will be returned to you if that information is not supplied. The legal copy of the check itself should bear the initials of the person taking it, so identification can be made. The person complaining on behalf of the business must sign the sheet.
  2. The person accepting the check shall identify the person passing the check. Identification should be obtained from some form of identification listed below. Verbal identification should never be accepted. Information needed includes, full name with middle initial, date of birth, type of identification taken and the number on it. This information can be placed on the front of the check.Types of identification that are current and that are acceptable:a) Wisconsin driver’s licenseb) State of Wisconsin photo IDc) Student photo IDd) Check cashing carde) Passport

    CHECKS WITHOUT THIS INFORMATION WILL BE RETURNED!

  3. Checks must be turned into our office within 60 days of receipt.

By law the following checks cannot be prosecuted:

1) Stop Payment Checks. These are matters of civil dispute between the issuer and the payee. These checks should be referred to Small Claims Court.

2) Postdated Checks. The person accepting the check must be prepared to testify that he or she examined the check upon receipt and that the date on the check was the date it was received.

3) Checks for Past Consideration. Checks taken for items previously received by the payee, debts, or payments on accounts are specifically exempted by the bad check law. The person taking the check must be prepared to testify concerning what kind of merchandise was accepted in exchange for the check and when each part of the transaction took place.

4) Two party checks. If the check is not made out by the passer directly to the business, we cannot prosecute. If the name of your business does not appear directly after the phrased “Pay to the Order or’ on the front of the check, we cannot prosecute; this includes payroll checks. Never cash any two party checks made out to more than one payee, unless both endorse the check in the presence of the person accepting it. This includes energy assistance and insurance checks, handwritten endorsements on these checks on behalf of a business payee are likely forgeries.

5) Partial Payment. If you have accepted partial payment on a bad check, we cannot prosecute because of the creditor/debtor relationship you have established. These matters should be referred to Small Claims Court.

6) Out of State Checks. As a practical consideration, you should approach out of state checks with extreme caution. This because extradition procedures cost a minimum of $2,000.00, which cannot be justified on non-felony matters.

Checks are not legal tender, even if issued by the government. You are under no obligation to cash them. If you have any doubt about the passer or the check, do not take it, simply because a passer may present a government check does not mean he has the authority to cash it. Government checks are occasionally stolen in large quantities and then forged and presented in separate locations to avoid detection.

Once your check has been turned over to the Sauk Prairie Police Department, it is important that you take no payment on the check. If the person wishes to pay the bad check amount, direct them to the Sauk Prairie Police Department.