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Check law change helps merchants

A law change taking effect July 1 will help victims of bad checkwriters get their money quicker and help speed up prosecutionefforts, said officials in the District Attorney’s office.

After a one-year change, the state legislature this year did an”about face” and reduced the statutory notice requirement from 30days to 15 days, said District Attorney Dunn Lampton. The noticerequirement for insufficient funds bad checks was 15 days until itwas changed to 30 days last year.

“Most of our merchants were understandably upset last year whenthis waiting period was doubled,” Lampton said. “Checks should bevalid tender when presented, so from the moment a check isdishonored, the payee is placed in a negative position.”

Chad Vaughn, bad check coordinator with the DA’s Bad Check Unitin Brookhaven, explained that merchants are required to send astatutory notice to a bad check writer and give the person acertain amount of time to make the check good. Currently, thatamount of time is 30 days.

“As of July 1, they’ll have to give them 15 days to make thecheck good,” Vaughn said.

Lampton said the upcoming law change is good news for merchants.In bad check situations, the DA said merchants have to wait formoney that is rightfully theirs.

“Depending on the individual, the results can range from being asetback and a costly irritation to putting the victim in direcircumstances,” Lampton said.

After the notice period has expired and the situation is notresolved, a bad check may be turned in to the DA’s office forprosecution. Vaughn said the shorter statutory notice period willhelp speed up prosecutors’ efforts to collect on unresolved badchecks.

“The longer we wait, the harder it is to find the people and theharder it is to get the money,” Vaughn said.