Small Claims or Police for Bad Checks?


Thanks for the great advice on collecting after getting bad checks. I’m working on a huge one ($1000+) and have just one question. The collection agency – who failed in their attempt to collect the debt – suggested filing in small claims court of the debtor’s county (suburban Chicago while I’m in Atlanta). Have you ever had to resort to contacting the local police as you threatened in your note? Has it worked? Is that better than pursuing a small claim in the county?

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.


People are far more worried about the police than they are about small claims court. Even if you sued them, they might not pay anyway. Then, you’d have to get a lien filed on their property or obtain a judgement to take their assets. If a company that truly owes a writer money lets the complaint get all the way to small claims court, that means they either just don’t care or they simply don’t have the money to pay.

However if someone is threatened with having a criminal record, they can usually find the money somehow/somewhere to pay their debt for the bad check.

One problem is that many police departments have a very short window of time to file for bad checks. One police department website I recently checked had narrowed the time to 90 days. That means people who receive a bad check only have 90 days to file with the police. Their reasoning was because so many people were passing bad checks in that city.

I think you should definitely contact the police in suburban Chicago. It might be faster than going to court and you may find that you’re not the only person who received a bad check from that individual. If that person has written multiple bad checks, they may end up with a long jail sentence.

Hugs, Angela