Police target bad checksIf you don’t have funds in your checking account, don’t plan on writing any checks – or you will face new consequences.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
If you don’t have funds in your checking account, don’t plan on writing any checks – or you will face new consequences.
Plain and simple, writing bad checks is a crime warns Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels.
The police department announced Wednesday it is launching a new program that will address the problems many city businesses face when accepting checks from shoppers.
The department, which is working hand in hand with Financial Crimes Services, will kick off the Bad Check Diversion Program on Tuesday, February 2.
Chief Wyffels said that the department doesn’t always have the resources it needs to be able to investigate and prosecute those who write bad checks. Nor can the police department always help business owners recover some of the losses that come along with bad checks.
“The fact of the matter is, bad checks are being passed in our stores and this is costing our merchants a lot of money,” said the chief. “Bad checks are depriving our merchants a profit, but it’s also costing all of our citizens extra in terms of the fact that businesses have to pass on the costs to the people shopping in their stores.”
The police department is hosting a training seminar and meeting for the Bad Check Diversion Program on Tuesday, February 2 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Alexandria City Hall. The department invites all business owners, managers or anyone who accepts checks through the course of their business to attend the training seminar.
The training is scheduled for about an hour and is sponsored by the Alexandria Police Department and Financial Crimes Services.
Working in partnership with Financial Crimes Services, police can help business owners who still want to accept checks but are afraid to do so because of the losses to their businesses.
Wyffels said the program won’t cost the business anything and there is no cost to the city of Alexandria either.
The program can help separate out those who have criminal intentions and those who are simply overdrawing on their account accidentally or inadvertently, said the chief.
The program allows the latter group to rectify the issue without going to court and receive beneficial financial education classes.
“At times, people just get overstretched and they need some assistance,” said Wyffels. “The diversion program will allow them to do that without having to cost the merchants money to recover these checks or otherwise not getting to the root of the problem.”
Under the program, the city will contract with Financial Crimes Services to work with business owners who receive a non-sufficient funds or closed account check. Financial Crimes Services will contact the person who wrote the bad check, investigate it and then seek restitution.
First-time offenders will be diverted out of the court system provided they pay full restitution, including fees, and then enter into a financial counseling program provided by Financial Crimes Services.
Offenders who repeatedly write bad checks or commit more felonious financial transactions will be referred to the prosecutor’s office after Financial Crimes Services completes its investigation.
Financial Crimes Services, according to Wyffels, provides check writers with training on how to manage a checkbook, along with other related finance issues. The classes are part of the diversion program and are paid for by the offender.
“This is an important program because it’s a partnership with our community,” said Wyffels. “It helps to hold check writers accountable for their actions.”
If anyone has questions about the program, call either Alexandria Police Captain Scott Kent or Sergeant Larry Dailey at (320) 763-6631.