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Money

The www.FedPrimeRate.com Personal Finance Blog and Magazine

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Check Writing Habits That Can Get You Prosecuted

I think that almost everyone who has a checkbook has written at least one check in their lifetime that they knew they could not cover at the time the check was written. Because there is usually a time lapse before the actual redemption of your check, sometimes people write checks for amounts they do not currently have in their accounts, knowing that by the time the check makes it to the bank, the money will be there.

This is not a good practice; my good friend found out the hard way.

Times got a little tight, and my friend found himself needing groceries before he received his regular paycheck. So, he went to his local grocery store and wrote a check that he couldn’t cover at the time, knowing that by the time the check was cashed, the funds would be available. The problem with this plan was that you must always expect the unexpected; some other bill payments that went through the same week maxed him out, and by the time the grocery check was processed, there were insufficient funds to cover that amount. My friend took care of the overdraft fees soon after the incident, but somehow managed to let a period of time go by without actually repaying the store for the bounced check.

Well, the huge regional grocery store chain did not forget.

By the time he returned to the store to settle the debt, they had sent him to collections. Who knew that grocery stores had collections departments? Collections had sent his information to the county prosecutor’s office, and my friend received a friendly notice in the mail stating that he had to attend and pass a class for check fraud offenders, or legal action would be taken against him!

The class, he told me, was an eye opener. Through group interaction, he learned that there were lots of people taking the class with him for a myriad of reasons. Little old ladies, young men and women, working class and professionals; all were there because of one bad check. Some were there because they were irresponsible, and some were there because they were so financially strapped that they had to pass a bad check to eat. Others, like my friend, just took a seemingly small risk and ended up on the losing side of the bet. The four-hour course was on money management and educated the attendees on the risks and legal ramifications of committing check fraud, which all of them were guilty of, whether intentionally or not.

My friend walked away from the experience having learned a lot about the importance of managing money meticulously when you are on a budget. Not only did this hard knock teach him a thing or two, but the class itself was actually very valuable, he says. Although his intentions were not malicious, what he did was still illegal. Otherwise honest people can participate in criminal activity because of a lack of prior planning and proper accounting.

Go figure...

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