You might have thought that you had more money in your checking account than you actually had, or you might've hoped that the checks that you wrote wouldn't go through until after payday. Regardless of why you might have made the mistake, writing bad checks isn't something to take lightly.
Many people don't realize that it's actually a crime to write worthless checks in Oklahoma, but you could face misdemeanor or felony charges. Writing bad checks also costs a lot of money in overdraft and returned check fees and creates various other problems. If the mistake has already been made, you can follow these tips to help minimize the damage.
Contact Your Bank
You don't just have to worry about being in criminal trouble because of writing bad checks. You also have to think about how you will be affected financially by this mistake. For one thing, your bank might have charged you overdraft fees for writing the bad check. These fees can add up and put your account in the negative. If you have other checks pending, these checks will bounce, too, if your account is in the negative.
If you don't get your account back out of the negative soon enough, you'll owe the bank the money. You could be sued, or the amount that you owe could be sent to a collection agency. Your account might be closed, and you could be left without a bank account, which makes things like safely storing your money, paying bills, and cashing checks difficult.
Also, if your account gets closed, your information could be entered into ChexSystems or other similar monitoring databases. Then, opening another checking account will be difficult for several years to come.
If you contact your bank, you might be able to have some of the fees removed or reduced. Let your bank know that you are aware of the situation and are planning to get your account back into the black as soon as possible. They may provide options for paying the money back or may be able to help you in other ways.
Contact the Person or Company You Wrote the Check To
You'll possibly know that the checks that you wrote bounced before the person you wrote the checks to realizes it. Still, you can expect to be contacted fairly promptly by the person or company that you wrote the checks to about the returned payments.
You may be tempted to ignore these phone calls. You might feel embarrassed, and you might not have the money to cover the checks right now. You could even hope that it will all go away if you ignore it long enough, but ignoring the situation is probably only going to make it worse.
Many people and companies will work with those who write them bad checks to give them a chance to remedy the situation before they take things further. If you ignore the situation, though, the party that you wrote the checks to may get local law enforcement involved. This is obviously something that you want to avoid!
Call and let them know that you are aware of the mistake, as this shows that you aren't trying to hide from them or get out of paying. If you know when you'll be able to make good on the check and cover any returned check fees that you're being charged, let them know. Hopefully, this will help prevent the situation from escalating.
Consult With a Lawyer
If you have written a lot of bad checks, if the checks that you wrote were for high amounts of money, or if you have been ignoring the situation and have allowed it to escalate, you need help. A lawyer can talk to you about your situation and help you avoid criminal charges, if possible. If criminal charges have been or will be filed, a lawyer can help represent you.
Writing bad checks doesn't have to be a huge deal, but it's not something you should ignore, either. At The Kanehl Law Firm P.L.L.C., we help people who are facing criminal charges and can help you out, too. Contact us today.