Bad Check Restitution Program



DATE:            29 January 2021


TO:                  Merchants and Retailers in Polk County, Iowa




CONTACT:    Thomas Tolbert

                        222 5th Avenue

                        Des Moines, Iowa 50309



On January 29, 2021, the Polk County Bad Check Program will be suspended indefinitely. In recent years, the third-party organization that manages the program has seen drastic decreases in the amount of checks submitted to the program. The reduction in checks being received in addition to a lack of participants in the program has rendered the program inefficient for collecting funds for merchants and also holding check writers responsible for their actions.


Moving forward, merchants are directed to contact the police in their appropriate jurisdiction if they seek to open an investigation into possibly fraudulent or “bad” checks. The program will continue to process all checks in their possession until April 30, 2021. After this date, the checks will be evaluated for prosecution or returned to the merchant.


Through years of managing this program, many cases have been presented to the Polk County Attorney’s Office for prosecution when a suspect is non-cooperative with the program. Unfortunately, the evidence collected by many merchants when the check was written was insufficient to support criminal charges. In order ensure future prosecution of suspects is viable, we ask you to consider the following:


  1. Identification
    1. Obtain identifying information on the suspect preferably a drivers’ license or something with a photo ID. Also obtain their date of birth and residential address. If a suspect is unable to be identified, they CANNOT be prosecuted. Addresses, partial drivers’ license numbers, or just date of birth are insufficient to identify a suspect.
    2. Preserve video footage showing the interaction between the suspect and the store employee accepting the check.
    3. Preserve documentation on the store employee that accepted the check.


  1. Physical Evidence
    1. Preserve the original or a copy of the check that was submitted for payment.


  1. Notice to Cure
    1. Iowa Code § 714.1(6)(a) states as follows:


Whenever the drawee of such instrument has refused payment because of insufficient funds, and the maker has not paid the holder of the instrument the amount due thereon within ten days of the maker’s receipt of notice from the holder that payment has been refused by the drawee, the court or jury may infer from such facts that the maker knew that the instrument would not be paid on presentation. Notice of refusal of payment shall be by certified mail, or by personal service in the manner prescribe for serving original notices.


                        Iowa Code § 714.1(6)(a).


  1. Follow proper procedure in serving a “notice to cure” to allow inference to be used in future prosecution.


Inquiries regarding checks that have been submitted to the Bad Check Program pre-January 29th can be directed to the aforementioned contact. Inquiries regarding opening an investigation related to a bad check should be directed to your local law enforcement agency.