How to Clear Up Bad Checks

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Most people never intend to write checks for which they do not have the funds in their bank account to cover. Sometimes, after unforeseen events that require immediate payment such as a car unexpectedly breaking down, a previously written check ends up bouncing. To make matter worse, sometimes that one bounced check causes other checks to bounce and you end up racking up huge non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees. Fortunately, there a few easy steps to clear up bad checks.

  • Call your bank, even if you don't think it will do any good. Oftentimes, if you explain your situation, they can waive a few bounced check fees. This also prevents them from closing your account.

  • Bring your bank account current. Make deposits, no matter how small, to get your account out of the negative.

  • Bring your bounced check into the vendor. Pay the vendor the amount of the bounced check in cash. You can usually do it right in the store.

  • Pay your fees. The vendor also charges a bounced check fee in addition to what your bank charges. This is done through a third-party company. The name of the company is on the NSF notice letter from the vendor you bounced the check to.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consider overdraft protection. This is a separate account that covers your primary checking account if it goes into the negative, preventing you from bouncing a check.
  • Never wait. Try to clear up bad checks within a month. If you wait longer, they go on a national record-keeping system such as TeleCheck or Check Systems, preventing you from opening another checking account.

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