The Miwaukee County District Attorneys Office has adopted a new program that will hopefully allow landlords to collect on bad checks that were passed by their tenants. The goal of the program is to get the bad-check writers to pay back the money owed in exchange for not being charged with a crime or referred to collections.
This program, entitled the Worthless Check Diversion Program, is a positive step for landlords because currently the Milwaukee Police Department will not prosecute tenants that write bad rent checks. See my earlier blog post on this topic entitled “Passing of Worthless Checks Will Not Be Prosecuted in City of Milwaukee.”
Assistant District Attorney Ron Dague spearheaded this new program for the DA’s Office and even spoke at an AASEW membership meeting about the program back in January of this year. The goal was for the program to be up and running by April. According to a recent Journal Sentinel article entitled “Program Allows Writers of Bad Checks To Pay Up, Avoid Charges” written by Tom Kertscher, the program has been operating for the past few months, however the Milwaukee Police Department is not yet participating.
The program will be run by a company called Financial Crime Services. To participate a landlord that has received a bad check from a tenant must contact Financial Crime Services and provide them with the necessary information. The company will then send a letter to the bad-check writer. If the bad-check writer is willing to participate in the program, which they will have to pay for themselves, they must attend an educational based program to teach them about budgeting, finances and bank fees. Upon completion of the program (which includes paying restitution) the bad-check writer will receive a letter advising them that they will not be criminally prosecuted for committing the crime.
There are no fees to the landlord for participating in this program. If and when restitution is collected, 100% of the money is returned to the landlord. Financial Crime Services will not charge a processing fee or take a percentage of the money collected.
If a tenant (who is now hopefully an ex-tenant) wrote you a bad check that you haven’t been able to collect on, this program might be something to look into.