A service charge may be imposed on any dishonored check if written notice of the service charge was conspicuously displayed in the cashier's area when the check was issued. As we understand it based on conversations with several state agencies and statewide associations, the state has not imposed a limit on the service fee you may collect for a dishonored check, although all agreed it must be reasonable. Commonly, a fee of $10-$25 is charged.
The following procedures are suggested for collecting on a bad check:
- Resubmit the check to the bank for a second time (most banks will do this automatically).
- If returned a second time, and the person takes no action to correct the situation, they could find themselves in violation of Section 708 of the Maine Criminal Code. The court calls this offense "negotiating a worthless instrument, punishable as a Class C or Class D" violation.
- After the five days, assess a collection fee (based on what you had conspicuously posted).
- Send written notice of dishonor requesting payment for the check and the collection fee.
- If not paid within 30 days, send a written notice outlining the possible civil penalties denoted in statue (see below).
- If still not paid, consider contacting your city or county law enforcement officials for assistance.
You may also wish to pursue the bad debt through small claims court. The following statutes address the civil court proceedings:
Civil Penalties Bad Checks
(Title 14: Part 7 - Particular Proceedings; Chapter 712; Civil Liability for Bad Checks; Section 6071) In any action against a person liable for a dishonored check, the holder may recover the amount of the check, the court costs and the processing charges incurred by the holder, plus interest at the rate of 12% per annum from the date of dishonor...
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Notice of Nonpayment of Checks
(Title 14: Part 7 - Particular Proceedings; Chapter 712; Civil Liability for Bad Checks; Section 6073) "Your check, draft or order made payable to .................. in the amount of ............. has not been accepted for payment by ......................, which is the drawee bank designated on your check. The check is dated ..................... and it is numbered ................" [1995, c. 288, §3 (amd).]...
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Release Date: 12/14/2000 12:00:00 AM