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Worthless check unit helps businesses cash in - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Worthless check unit helps businesses cash in

9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson

By Tracey Amick  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Bad checks are bad news for businesses.

Businesses who fall victim to bad checks often often have to swallow the costs. But one year ago in Charleston County, the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office started a new unit to get the false check writers to pay-up.

"We're big believers in this, if it weren't for this unit we wouldn't have been successful at collecting the money we have we just kept failing and failing," said Fred Whittle, C.O.O. of Jupiter Holdings, which owns storage units, convenience stores and Buck Lumber. 

The unit is called the Worthless Check Unit and so far 130 businesses in Charleston County have gotten on board and they have recouped more than $400,000.

"We downloaded the form, sent checks in, started getting results immediately and started probing past checks," Whittle said.

The group even recouped money for a $3,500 check that was written back in 2005.

"We threw it out there to test their capability, we threw a hard slider to them instead of a soft pitch and they hit it out of the park," Whittle said.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said she would like to extend the program into Berkeley County as well. She said it helps the businesses and keeps the bad check writer out of jail.

"If they make good on their check and pay like they should have they don't have warrants out for their arrests," Wilson said. "They aren't booked, aren't convicted and coming out with a criminal record."

The bad check writer also has to pay a service fee, $50 for a check up to $500, $100 for a check up to $1,000 and $150 for any amount higher than $1000. That money helps cover any bank penalties a business may have incurred and helps pay to keep the program going.

Charleston County Council gave the program the seed money to buy computers and hire employees last August and they have almost paid all the money back.

The program doesn't cost the businesses anything and if the bad check writer doesn't pay, the solicitor's office takes them to task then involves law enforcement.

"That's another benefit of using it," Wilson said. "Even in that scenario we go through the process. They don't have to worry about it."

So far, the largest check recouped was for more than $23,000.

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