First, the new service provides local merchants with an effective,
no-cost means of recovering funds lost to bad checks. Second, it
also helps businesses avoid accepting bad checks in the first place.
Finally, the program provides training to people who have written a
bad check in an effort to keep them from writing bad checks in the
future. Following these three steps should reduce the number of bad
checks and strengthen the economic climate.
"By the time a check
reaches this program, it's very likely a criminal offense," said
McIntosh. "That's how the case could be treated, because under
Illinois statutes the case could go directly to prosecution. But
prosecuting every person who writes a bad check isn't necessarily
the best way of addressing the matter. This solution is a better fit
to the transgression. Everybody gets what they're seeking. Victims
of bad checks universally just want their money, and the Check
Enforcement Program will return 100 percent of any check that's
recovered plus a victim's service fee."
The state’s attorney emphasized that a bad check, of any size, is
a serious matter. "This is essentially a one-time offer for people
passing bad checks, and my office will definitely pursue bad-check
cases for possible prosecution," he said.
The Check Enforcement Program offers a bad-check writer an
opportunity of avoiding criminal prosecution. To prevent an
appearance before a judge, bad-check writers must fulfill the
conditions of the program. The first condition on the list is to
make full restitution to the victims along with a service fee to
cover the costs incurred as a result of the bad check. Check writers
will also pay the fees required to administer the program. In this
way, there is no cost to victims, the state's attorney's office or
other taxpayers. Bad-check writers pay the entire cost of this
The Check Enforcement Program deals with checks that were
dishonored because of insufficient funds, closed account or no
account. Forged or counterfeit checks should be reported to the
police immediately and not referred the Check Enforcement Program --
there is no chance that this type of offender would avoid
prosecution under this program.
Through the Check Enforcement Program, the offending check writer
can clear up the problem and avoid possible criminal prosecution.
This creates a strong incentive to cooperate with the state's
attorney's office, which is why these programs are successful.
The Check Enforcement Program for Logan County is a twin of
several successful programs that are working throughout the country.
In Illinois, DuPage, Boone, Warren, Mercer, Hancock and Bureau have
similar programs and have seen excellent results.
Nationally, the programs have returned millions of dollars to
merchants and other victims of bad-checks crime -- at no cost to
anyone but the check writers who have passed bad checks.
[to top of second column]
The Check Enforcement Program will have "teeth" to go after those
people who have passed bad checks with the intent of never making
them good, but there is also a strong prevention component in the
Check Enforcement Program. For example, the program will provide
merchants with free information and materials to help them avoid bad
checks in the first place. The program guidelines detail exactly how
to handle all checks -- but especially bad checks -- so the state's
attorney can pursue them, should it come to that.
As a final requirement of the program, bad-check writers must
complete an educational course that teaches them how to manage their
finances better, which will help them avoid future bad checks.
Experience in other jurisdictions shows this prevention measure
works well, significantly lowering the number of repeat offenders.
The state's attorney believes this is a positive step toward
crime prevention. In his words, "Prevention is always preferable to
McIntosh says he's looking forward to making this a beneficial
program for everyone in the county. "Ultimately we all pay the cost
of this crime because merchants are forced to raise prices to
compensate for the money that's stolen through bad checks," he said.
"With the Check Enforcement Program, businesses in Logan County that
get involved will benefit, and all of us will benefit indirectly
from fewer bad checks."
Getting involved is a simple process. Merchants can call
toll-free 1-866-531-7136 to receive a packet of information, or they
can contact Lisa Bobb in the state's attorney's office at
217-735-5075. Also, people can register on the Web at
a new site, and download forms from there.
[Text from file received from the
office of the
Logan County state's attorney]