Report a Bad Check

The Bad Check Restitution Program assists local merchants with bad check losses to obtain restitution and to relieve burden on the criminal justice system.

Merchants in Orange County benefit because they receive restitution without paying any collection fees. First time bad check offenders are given the opportunity to avoid criminal prosecution by attending a mandatory, 8-hour intervention class, in addition to paying restitution. All of this is accomplished without cost to the taxpayers.

Filing A Report

  1. Make personal contact with the check writer; if you are unsuccessful, send a courtesy notice. The check writer has 10 days to respond and remit payment.
  2. If you do not hear from the check writer or receive payment, simply contact the Bad Check Restitution Program at (866) 657-8526 for a bad check complaint form.
  3. Fill out the crime report form, attach originals (retain photocopies) of all checks and notification documents, such as return receipts and bank notices and mail to:

Orange County District Attorney
Bad Check Restitution Program
P.O. Box 3050
San Clemente, CA 92674-3050

Why It Works

  • Bad check reports are easy to file and follow-up action is prompt.
  • Upon recovery, 100 percent of the face value of the check is returned to the victim.
  • There is no minimum dollar restriction.
  • Bad check offenders must complete an 8-hour educational class at their own expense.
  • The program operates at no cost to the taxpayers.


A check is eligible if:

  • The amount is no more than $5,000 (or multiple checks not exceeding this limit). There are no minimum dollar restrictions.
  • It was deposited in a bank in exchange for goods or services and was presumed "good" at the time of acceptance.
  • A "Courtesy Notice" was sent to the check writer allowing 10 days to make good on the check.
  • It is submitted to the program within 90 days from the date on the check.
  • A government photo I.D. (driver's license or state identification card) was recorded at the time of the transaction.

A check is ineligible if:

  • It is post-dated.
  • Both parties knew there were insufficient funds at the time of transaction.
  • Is an out-of-state, 2-party, rent, government, or payroll check.
  • The identity of the check writer is unknown.
  • There is no amount, date, or signature on the check.
  • It has not been processed by a bank.
  • The check involves an "extension of credit" or payment on an account.

Acceptance Tips

The best way to reduce losses is to avoid taking bad checks from the start. The following tips are suggestions to help establish good procedures for accepting checks.

Institute a check acceptance policy
A clearly-posted check acceptance policy for employees and customers can go a long way toward reducing losses. Policies should state which types of checks can and cannot be accepted and include the consequences to bad check writers.

Confirm the identity of the check writer
All I.D. can be forged. The most reliable form of I.D. is that which contains a photo and a physical description. Compare the information on the I.D. and the check.

Whenever possible avoid accepting checks written on a new account
Approximately 85 percent of all bad checks are written on accounts only a few months old and bear check numbers between 101 and 150. Use caution. Do not accept counter drafts.

The signature should be legible and signed in the presence of the individual accepting the check
Do NOT accept previously signed checks. For a company check, it is vital that the signature is legible. If not, print the individual's name on the front of the check.

The complete address should be imprinted on the check
Require a street address, in addition to a P.O. Box number. Obtain a phone number as well.

Accept checks only written with today's date
Pre- or post-dated checks are not accepted in the Bad Check Restitution Program and cannot typically be criminally prosecuted. This restricts any recourse one may have against the check writer if one's own collection attempts fail.

Make sure written amounts and numbers correspond
Banks will not honor checks with discrepancies between written amounts and numbers.

Avoid accepting checks drawn on an out-of-state bank.

REMEMBER, you are not required to accept a check from anyone. If you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, trust your intuition. Ask for another form of payment.

Contact Us

Orange County District Attorney Bad Check Restitution Program
P.O. Box 3050
San Clemente, CA 92674-3050

Victim Hotline:  (866) 657-8526