Bad Check Program

About the Program
On October 6, 2003, the District Attorney announced the introduction of a Bad Check Restitution Program, designed to assist local merchants who have been victimized by bad check losses. The Bad Check Restitution Program was designed with three goals in mind:
  • To better serve the Lancaster community
  • To better serve victims
  • To rehabilitate offenders
The program returns police officers to the streets, rather than having them investigate bad check cases. Time spent by our dedicated police officers investigating and prosecuting bad check cases is time not spent investigating violent crimes or protecting the safety of our streets. For this reason, the Bad Check Restitution Program has received the endorsement of the Lancaster County Chiefs of Police Association.

How the Program Benefits Citizens
The program serves victims by quickly returning to merchants that which is rightfully theirs. The victims of bad check crimes are generally the merchants of this community. Local businesses who experienced bad check losses waited months, if not years, to receive restitution from bad check offenders. Often times, they had to send employees to court to testify, costing them additional losses. With the Bad Check Restitution Program, merchants are educated in preventative check acceptance measures, and should receive 100% of their restitution without the necessity of courtroom time.

Finally, the program increases the accountability of those who pass bad checks, without increasing the administrative or financial burden to the criminal justice system. This is being accomplished through a unique cooperative effort combining private and public sector resources to require bad check offenders to complete a special eight hour class in addition to paying restitution. The classes serve as reinforcement that offenders must be held more accountable. Instructors zero in on many of the rationalizations that perpetuate an offender's bad check writing behavior, as well as basic issues about managing checkbook finances, the law, communication, budgeting, and managing stress.

Operating Fees
Operating funds for the new program are paid by fees assessed to bad check offenders. No tax dollars are required. Those who successfully complete the program will not have a criminal record of the offense.

Corrective Solutions Partnership
This office has forged a partnership with Corrective Solutions (CS) to administer the program and resolve bad checks before criminal charges are filed. Procedurally, local businesses have been instructed to work directly with CS in notifying defendants of the bad checks, and permitting check writers the opportunity of entering the program before criminal charges are filed.

If the individual successfully completes the program, no criminal charges will be filed. If an offender does not successfully complete the program, CS will present the case to the District Attorney's Office as a private criminal complaint for subsequent prosecution by this office.

Financial institutions do not use any form of universal code to indicate why payment was declined for a check although most do use the code (NSF) for checks drawn on accounts with Non-Sufficient Funds.  NSF bad checks cases must be referred by merchants to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Bad Check Restitution Program and Police Departments, therefore, will not investigate NSF bad checks.  However, not all checks for which banks decline payment are NSF checks

Banks will decline payment for checks drawn on “Closed Accounts”, counterfeit checks or forged or stolen checks.   Checks for which banks have declined payment for these reasons frequently constitute far more serious acts of fraud and should be referred to police for investigation.  If you do not understand the rejection code your bank has printed on a check, contact your bank and ask for it meaning.    

Reporting Bad Checks
Specific details on eligibility, contact information, tips for accepting checks, how to file a bad check crime report, and online crime report forms available for downloading can be found at Check Program website.

By Mail
Bad check crime reports and all other correspondence should be sent by mail to the following address:
Lancaster County District Attorney
Bad Check Restitution Program
P.O. Box 1417
Lancaster, PA 17608

By Phone
A victim hotline number has been established for victims who wish to speak to a representative, which can be reached at 866-286-1435. You can also call 866-292-3591 if have been referred to the program for passing a bad check. You may also email the program administrators.