Many people gladly accept written checks as a form of payment. However, the reality is accepting checks as payment can be incredibly risky. When a recipient accepts a check, they have no way of knowing whether or not the funds promised on the check are actually available. When a check bounces, it may be caused by a simple mistake or misunderstanding, but oftentimes the writer of the check knew the check was bad. In Texas, check fraud is illegal, and victims of bad checks have a right to seek repayment of the funds.
Where The Problem Starts
Check fraud is possible because of the lag in time between when a check is deposited and when the funds are actually paid. This time is called the float, and some individuals take advantage of it, leaving the recipient high and dry after several days. Fraudulent checks, or hot checks as they are sometimes called, can have a devastating effect on victims. For businesses, fraudulent checks can bring operations to a screeching halt; and for individuals, a bad check could leave them and their families in crisis.
Criminal Charges For Check Fraud
In Texas, writing fraudulent checks is either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount on the check. For bad checks under $1,500, the writer of the check may be charged with a misdemeanor, writing bad checks over $1,500 can be considered a felony. The penalties for writing a bad check in Texas are broken down by the amount written on the check.
Criminal penalties for Texas check fraud can include:
- Less than $20: A fine of up to $500
- $20 to $499: A fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail
- $500 to $1,499: A fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail
- $1,500 or more: A fine of up to $10,000 and a minimum of two years in jail
What Do I Do If A Check I Receive Bounces?
When a check bounces, it is imperative the victim immediately enlist the help of an attorney. There are certain steps a victim of check fraud must take to help obtain proper payment – and all steps taken must be carefully documented to support the claim. Certain steps in the process are also time sensitive, so do not wait to contact a lawyer. When a check bounces, the recipient must first try to obtain repayment by sending a certified letter detailing the amount to pay. If the other party still refuses to pay, the recipient can take the party to court. If the other party still refuses to pay, their wages can be garnished or a lien can be placed on their property to secure payment of the debt.
Houston Check Fraud Attorneys
The key to successfully obtaining payment after a check bounces is working with an experienced check fraud lawyer. At Mejias Lindsay PLLC, we fight aggressively for our clients and we won’t stop until you get the payment you were promised. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.