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(The New York Times)   Debt collectors hooking up with the local DA to send you collection notices on DA stationery splitting some of the collections with the prosecutor, which is really nice for everyone. The debts are paid off, the city gets a split   (nytimes.com) divider line 128
    More: Spiffy, district attorneys, collection agency, Alameda County, bad checks, Economic stagnation, posters, prosecutors, collections  
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7482 clicks; posted to Main » on 16 Sep 2012 at 10:31 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-09-16 08:31:17 AM  
Spiffy? Really?
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-09-16 08:48:22 AM  
This is real close to extortion, but obviously the DA isn't going to prosecute.

In many states the crime of extortion includes a threat to accuse somebody of a crime unless money is paid. The accusation can be true and it's still extortion.
 
2012-09-16 08:52:00 AM  
Pay us our "reeducation class fee" or go to jail?
 
2012-09-16 09:07:07 AM  
This country is off the rails.
 
2012-09-16 09:19:49 AM  
In fairness, this is being done for bounced checks which is a crime(criminal conversion in Indiana) and not a civil thingy. Admittedly, adding on the $180 for a "financial education" class and splitting with the prosecutor is total BS. 
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-09-16 09:23:53 AM  
dugitman

Where I live bouncing a check is evidence of a crime rather than a crime in itself. There may not be much practical difference. The DA doesn't have time to prosecute you if you pay the debt.
 
2012-09-16 09:24:06 AM  

Marcus Aurelius: This country is off the rails.


I'm torn between wanting to stay and fight for my country - or just leaving to find some place more aligned with my beliefs.
 
2012-09-16 09:29:01 AM  

ZAZ: Where I live bouncing a check is evidence of a crime rather than a crime in itself. There may not be much practical difference. The DA doesn't have time to prosecute you if you pay the debt.


You said it better than me. I was trying to point out that the root cause of this is someone (allegedly) committing a crime and not just skipping out on their Rent-a-Center payments(a civil matter).
 
2012-09-16 10:02:31 AM  
It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay. The added fees and threats are a step too far, admittedly, (although I suppose they could just take them all to trial, costing both parties far more in court fees and likely ending up with more fines and/or jail time) the answer shouldn't be "Both sides are bad, so go deadbeats!" Or maybe I just feel that way because I write off over $4k a month on people who can't/won't ever pay their bills plus another 7% on collection agency fees on other overdue debts.
 
2012-09-16 10:03:49 AM  

ZAZ: dugitman

Where I live bouncing a check is evidence of a crime rather than a crime in itself. There may not be much practical difference. The DA doesn't have time to prosecute you if you pay the debt.



Ok, get where you're going... but hasn't there been a system in place where a check can be confirmed good/bad instantly for years now?  I understand your ma and pa corner store doesn't use this system (and probably don't take checks anyway)... but Wal Mart?  I have to believe they do.
 
2012-09-16 10:12:13 AM  

CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay.



I don't think I've written a check in years (although I guess with my online bill pay, that's technically a check to some recipients).  I've overdrafted at times.  But my bank gives me protection for a hefty fee ($35).  If I accedentally write a check over my balance, they cover it and charge me said fee.
 
Its complicated, but innocent.  Not sure what's going on here... personally, I keep most of my money in savings and just barely above what I need in checking (as its tied to an ATM card and all that, I want as little money in checking as possible).  Sometimes I'm off by a few bucks accedentally.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-09-16 10:16:58 AM  
downstairs

I assume use of verification systems is based on amount of risk, a cost-benefit calculation. Suppose the check verification vendor charges 1% to guarantee a check. If 99% of checks are good (weighted by value) it's simpler to take the loss than buy the system.

In my experience car dealers are paranoid and use electronic authorization or turn the check into a funds transfer. This applies to service, not only car sales. A big tire shop nearby turns checks into instant funds transfers. Independent service station takes my personal checks, drawn on the bank around the corner. I was tempted to say big businesses hate you, but outside of the auto industry practices are not so obviously size-related.
 
2012-09-16 10:21:13 AM  

ZAZ: I assume use of verification systems is based on amount of risk, a cost-benefit calculation. Suppose the check verification vendor charges 1% to guarantee a check. If 99% of checks are good (weighted by value) it's simpler to take the loss than buy the system.



Yeah, I get that logic... but the article mentioned a bad check to Wal Mart (true fraud or accident... not going to judge that).  I assume all Wal Mart locations have the system to instanty verify all checks.  They're only the biggest retailer in the world, ever.
 
2012-09-16 10:23:51 AM  

CreamFilling: Or maybe I just feel that way because I write off over $4k a month on people who can't/won't ever pay their bills plus another 7% on collection agency fees on other overdue debts.


I'm not sticking up for the check liters, but can't you claim your losses on your taxes and end up even? Real question, not sure how it really works.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-09-16 10:28:09 AM  
downstairs

Yeah, I'd think Wal-Mart would convert checks into cash electronically. I could imagine reasons they might not. For example, maybe they have a lot of customers who write a lot of technically NSF checks but deposit a paycheck the next day.

In the case from the article, possibly Wal-Mart contracted a check guarantee service, where they enter details and the computer says "yes" or "no" without touching the account. The check bounced anyway and the guarantor sold the debt to a collector.
 
2012-09-16 10:31:19 AM  

downstairs: ZAZ: I assume use of verification systems is based on amount of risk, a cost-benefit calculation. Suppose the check verification vendor charges 1% to guarantee a check. If 99% of checks are good (weighted by value) it's simpler to take the loss than buy the system.


Yeah, I get that logic... but the article mentioned a bad check to Wal Mart (true fraud or accident... not going to judge that).  I assume all Wal Mart locations have the system to instanty verify all checks.  They're only the biggest retailer in the world, ever.


They can verify available funds. They cant verify those funds will be there in 24-72hours when the check hits the bank. The woman could have written 6 checks over a weekend which individually are less than available balance. They won't all clear on Monday though.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-09-16 10:32:58 AM  
can't you claim your losses on your taxes and end up even

Losses are credited against income, not taxes.

Suppose his business costs $30,000 per month to run. He sells $60,000 wholesale cost of merchandise for $100,000 retail. His business makes $10,000 profit, which is taxable. If he eats $4,000 worth of bad checks his income is $96,000 and his profit is down 40% to $6,000. He pays tax on the $6,000.
 
2012-09-16 10:33:30 AM  

CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay. The added fees and threats are a step too far, admittedly, (although I suppose they could just take them all to trial, costing both parties far more in court fees and likely ending up with more fines and/or jail time) the answer shouldn't be "Both sides are bad, so go deadbeats!" Or maybe I just feel that way because I write off over $4k a month on people who can't/won't ever pay their bills plus another 7% on collection agency fees on other overdue debts.


You don't seem to understand the issue here. Nobody is claiming they shouldn't pay but rather using the criminal justice system to force a civil settlement is illegal and unethical any way you slice it, especially when they are using deceptive practices. But I guess when you're a boot-strapy republican the bank is always right and any means necessary is fine right?
 
2012-09-16 10:34:42 AM  

Marcus Aurelius: This country is off the rails.

 
2012-09-16 10:37:20 AM  

ginandbacon: Spiffy? Really?


Done in one.
 
2012-09-16 10:38:22 AM  

dugitman: In fairness, this is being done for bounced checks which is a crime(criminal conversion in Indiana) and not a civil thingy. Admittedly, adding on the $180 for a "financial education" class and splitting with the prosecutor is total BS.


Same here in Michigan (uttering and publishing), which means the DA *can* prosecute, should the party that originally took in the bad check ask (not sure if the 3rd party debt collection agency can).
 
2012-09-16 10:44:00 AM  

Bontesla: Marcus Aurelius: This country is off the rails.

I'm torn between wanting to stay and fight for my country - or just leaving to find some place more aligned with my beliefs.


Leave. It really is the only option at this point. My whole family is currently seriously looking to emigrate to Panama or Australia. Both have their benefits and costs.
 
2012-09-16 10:44:01 AM  

Marcus Aurelius: This country is off the rails.


Gosh, there's consequences for writing bad checks. How dare they!
 
2012-09-16 10:44:14 AM  
Interesting y'all mention WallyWorld.

Herabouts when you write a check there you just sign the sucker, (they treat it as a debit card transaction), machine does the rest when the cashier runs it through, you then get your check back with all details printed thereupon.

Transaction appears immediately, if you go online or even to an ATM to check, there it is.
 
2012-09-16 10:44:17 AM  

CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay.


I'm not siding with the criminals. I'm siding with justice.

We have rules for a reason. Both sides are expected to abide them.
 
2012-09-16 10:45:10 AM  

CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay. The added fees and threats are a step too far, admittedly, (although I suppose they could just take them all to trial, costing both parties far more in court fees and likely ending up with more fines and/or jail time) the answer shouldn't be "Both sides are bad, so go deadbeats!" Or maybe I just feel that way because I write off over $4k a month on people who can't/won't ever pay their bills plus another 7% on collection agency fees on other overdue debts.


You either really like the taste of boot black, or you're trolling.
 
2012-09-16 10:45:22 AM  
The bar really ought to weigh in on the ethics of this and consider sanctions against the DA.
 
2012-09-16 10:47:08 AM  

dugitman: downstairs: ZAZ: I assume use of verification systems is based on amount of risk, a cost-benefit calculation. Suppose the check verification vendor charges 1% to guarantee a check. If 99% of checks are good (weighted by value) it's simpler to take the loss than buy the system.


Yeah, I get that logic... but the article mentioned a bad check to Wal Mart (true fraud or accident... not going to judge that).  I assume all Wal Mart locations have the system to instanty verify all checks.  They're only the biggest retailer in the world, ever.

They can verify available funds. They cant verify those funds will be there in 24-72hours when the check hits the bank. The woman could have written 6 checks over a weekend which individually are less than available balance. They won't all clear on Monday though.


Gotcha.  Like I said, I haven't written a physical check in like 2-3 years.  Not even sure why anyone accepts checks anymore.  Everyone with a checking account gets an ATM card.
 
2012-09-16 10:49:22 AM  

ClavellBCMI: dugitman: In fairness, this is being done for bounced checks which is a crime(criminal conversion in Indiana) and not a civil thingy. Admittedly, adding on the $180 for a "financial education" class and splitting with the prosecutor is total BS.

Same here in Michigan (uttering and publishing), which means the DA *can* prosecute, should the party that originally took in the bad check ask (not sure if the 3rd party debt collection agency can).


Only the original party "injured" by the act of Uttering and Publishing can press charges.

/Lived and ran business in Michigan
//We would try to collect before prosecuting
 
2012-09-16 10:49:38 AM  
Catch Me if You Can
 
2012-09-16 10:50:14 AM  

Bontesla: Marcus Aurelius: This country is off the rails.

I'm torn between wanting to stay and fight for my country - or just leaving to find some place more aligned with my beliefs.


Well if you actually fight for your country you'll likely end up in jail for some reason. I decided to just leave.
 
2012-09-16 10:50:46 AM  

LowbrowDeluxe: You either really like the taste of boot black, or you're trolling.


Why? Writing a bad check is fraud. Fraud is a crime that could lead to jail time.
 
2012-09-16 10:51:18 AM  

Science_Guy_3.14159: Catch Me if You Can


Technically, that was check fraud.
 
2012-09-16 10:51:26 AM  

Bontesla: Marcus Aurelius: This country is off the rails.

I'm torn between wanting to stay and fight for my country - or just leaving to find some place more aligned with my beliefs.


This is a prison planet. There is no place else to go, really. Same shiat, different place. The dark age is upon us, and all we might do is brace against the storm. Glad I'm getting old. You young'uns will have to deal with this mess. No, there will be no dealing with this. Sorry. Will soon suck to be young. 
imageshack.us 
On the up side, the cubs win big in 2012!
 
2012-09-16 10:53:20 AM  

LowbrowDeluxe: CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay. The added fees and threats are a step too far, admittedly, (although I suppose they could just take them all to trial, costing both parties far more in court fees and likely ending up with more fines and/or jail time) the answer shouldn't be "Both sides are bad, so go deadbeats!" Or maybe I just feel that way because I write off over $4k a month on people who can't/won't ever pay their bills plus another 7% on collection agency fees on other overdue debts.

You either really like the taste of boot black, or you're trolling.


I'm not saying that if you bounce a $5 check you're going to the big house, but certainly if you make it a habit or do it for large amounts, it's possible.
Link
 
2012-09-16 10:53:40 AM  

G.I.R.B.: ClavellBCMI: dugitman: In fairness, this is being done for bounced checks which is a crime(criminal conversion in Indiana) and not a civil thingy. Admittedly, adding on the $180 for a "financial education" class and splitting with the prosecutor is total BS.

Same here in Michigan (uttering and publishing), which means the DA *can* prosecute, should the party that originally took in the bad check ask (not sure if the 3rd party debt collection agency can).

Only the original party "injured" by the act of Uttering and Publishing can press charges.

/Lived and ran business in Michigan
//We would try to collect before prosecuting


That's what I thought, and yeah, most places would rather try and collect rather than go thru the process of prosecuting someone (and in many cases, probably spend more on legal fees and costs than the check was worth to begin with).
 
2012-09-16 10:54:09 AM  
People are being imprisoned already for debt in MN and CA (!), so this is at least as much slippery slope as consequences of floating checks. Overall, I'd say it's another step on the road to Van Diemen's Land. If authorities have to choose between justice and backing the big boys, don't put your money on the consumer who innocently overdrafted.
 
2012-09-16 10:54:47 AM  

dugitman: In fairness, this is being done for bounced checks which is a crime(criminal conversion in Indiana) and not a civil thingy.


That still requires intent. It doesn't require intent to deprive the rightful owner of use, but it does requires that you knowingly bounce a check (i.e. create a false impression or fail to disclose a legal impediment), not just that failed to properly balance your checkbook and unknowingly bounced a check. See Indiana Code 35-43-4. As such many of the people targeted by these letters have, in fact, not committed a criminal offense, and so it's not fair to accuse them of such. In fact it's probably libelous to accuse them.
 
2012-09-16 10:55:29 AM  

This text is now purple: CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay.

I'm not siding with the criminals. I'm siding with justice.

We have rules for a reason. Both sides are expected to abide them.


The only side that is abiding by the rules is the collection agency and the DA's office. It sounds more like you don't like the rules.
 
2012-09-16 10:56:02 AM  

downstairs: dugitman: downstairs: ZAZ: I assume use of verification systems is based on amount of risk, a cost-benefit calculation. Suppose the check verification vendor charges 1% to guarantee a check. If 99% of checks are good (weighted by value) it's simpler to take the loss than buy the system.


Yeah, I get that logic... but the article mentioned a bad check to Wal Mart (true fraud or accident... not going to judge that).  I assume all Wal Mart locations have the system to instanty verify all checks.  They're only the biggest retailer in the world, ever.

They can verify available funds. They cant verify those funds will be there in 24-72hours when the check hits the bank. The woman could have written 6 checks over a weekend which individually are less than available balance. They won't all clear on Monday though.

Gotcha.  Like I said, I haven't written a physical check in like 2-3 years.  Not even sure why anyone accepts checks anymore.  Everyone with a checking account gets an ATM card.


Not really. Visa logo'd debit cards are only given dependent upon credit check. If they don't like your credit, you'll get a non Visa logo'd debit card, the kind you can only use at an ATM not for a point of sale transaction.

Unless that's been changed, post CARD Act.
 
2012-09-16 10:56:57 AM  

CreamFilling: This text is now purple: CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay.

I'm not siding with the criminals. I'm siding with justice.

We have rules for a reason. Both sides are expected to abide them.

The only side that is abiding by the rules is the collection agency and the DA's office. It sounds more like you don't like the rules.



You actually believe collection agencies abide by rules?
 
2012-09-16 10:58:55 AM  

ps69: The bar really ought to weigh in on the ethics of this and consider sanctions against the DA.


Absolutely. As a former assistant da I could not imagine my boss wanting the professional judgment of our office being handled by someone who was after just a profit.

In Indiana at least, to prosecute for check fraud, you have to first send a 10 day demand for payment. If check is repaid during that 10 days no crime has been committed. If not paid the bounced check is prima facie evidence of check fraud.

There are a ton of reasons one could have thought the check was good when written. What if you deposited a check the day before and that check ends up bouncing?

Yes people should pay what they owe, but the da selling his letterhead for profit is wrong and unethical.
 
2012-09-16 10:59:00 AM  
Hooray! Everyone makes money!!!
 
2012-09-16 10:59:26 AM  

ExperianScaresCthulhu: CreamFilling: This text is now purple: CreamFilling: It's very sad that anyone sides with people who right bad checks or run out on their debts over those who try to get them to pay.

I'm not siding with the criminals. I'm siding with justice.

We have rules for a reason. Both sides are expected to abide them.

The only side that is abiding by the rules is the collection agency and the DA's office. It sounds more like you don't like the rules.


You actually believe collection agencies abide by rules?


Sometimes. Not always. I'd assume if my collection agency didn't play by the rules they'd be more successful in collecting, so I suspect they're playing it pretty straight. Can you point to a rule they're breaking in this instance?
 
2012-09-16 10:59:38 AM  

downstairs: dugitman: downstairs: ZAZ: I assume use of verification systems is based on amount of risk, a cost-benefit calculation. Suppose the check verification vendor charges 1% to guarantee a check. If 99% of checks are good (weighted by value) it's simpler to take the loss than buy the system.


Yeah, I get that logic... but the article mentioned a bad check to Wal Mart (true fraud or accident... not going to judge that).  I assume all Wal Mart locations have the system to instanty verify all checks.  They're only the biggest retailer in the world, ever.

They can verify available funds. They cant verify those funds will be there in 24-72hours when the check hits the bank. The woman could have written 6 checks over a weekend which individually are less than available balance. They won't all clear on Monday though.

Gotcha.  Like I said, I haven't written a physical check in like 2-3 years.  Not even sure why anyone accepts checks anymore.  Everyone with a checking account gets an ATM card.


I own a mom&pop appliance repair business here in Florida. Half my customers are over 70 years old, and they don't feel comfortable letting me write down the credic card numbers. So yes, we of course take checks, and they never bounce. Just because you don't write checks, do not assume everybode else is as modern and hip and yourself. Whippersnapper!
 
2012-09-16 11:01:23 AM  

ZAZ: This is real close to extortion, but obviously the DA isn't going to prosecute.

In many states the crime of extortion includes a threat to accuse somebody of a crime unless money is paid. The accusation can be true and it's still extortion.


Can't the federal government intervene in the cases of corruption in the state government? Isn't that part of what the FBI does? Investigate and prosecute corruption?
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-09-16 11:04:01 AM  
Only the original party "injured" by the act of Uttering and Publishing can press charges.

Technically that's office policy rather than law, but you can't make a reluctant prosecutor try a case. In my state a retailer tried to turn bad checks into larceny charges. The state Supreme Court said courts were allowed to ignore private criminal complaints. You have a statutory right to bring a criminal complaint to court, but you don't have a right to a fair hearing on that complaint. The magistrate can dismiss the case because you're ugly, or your employer is evil, or because it's a Tuesday and he doesn't like to hear criminal cases on a Tuesday. And if the magistrate lets the case proceeed the prosecutor can drop charges for any of those reasons.
 
2012-09-16 11:04:06 AM  
What's the big deal? The Feds do this all the time!

/Yes, this is sarcasm, and a sad statement on this trend.
 
2012-09-16 11:04:59 AM  

profplump: hat still requires intent. It doesn't require intent to deprive the rightful owner of use, but it does requires that you knowingly bounce a check (i.e. create a false impression or fail to disclose a legal impediment), not just that failed to properly balance your checkbook and unknowingly bounced a check.


Well, there's the process of ignoring several written letters, over a period of weeks or months, from the vendor asking for fair payment also. That's a little different than "unknowingly" bouncing a check. It's not like vendors go to debt collectors the next business morning.
 
2012-09-16 11:05:19 AM  
The lady in the article should send in a check for the amount of the bounced one and tell them to fark off for any other amount.
 
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