One of my earliest blog posts, back when I had just started Tristan’s Landlord-Tenant Law Blog, was about the fact that the City of Milwaukee Police Department had a policy in place where they refused to investigate crimes in which a tenant made their rent payment with a worthless check or stopped payment on the check. Shortly thereafter I wrote about a new diversion program that was being created to assist landlords in such a situation.
I was attending the February monthly meeting for Milwaukee RING (Real Estate Investors Networking Group) this past Monday and they had a speaker from the company that is now running this new program. Mr. Rufus McNealy of Financial Crimes Services, LLC (FCS) spoke to us about the diversion/accountability program that is now in full effect.
With the current recession the District Attorney’s Office says that they are receiving more and more complaints of people passing worthless checks. Due to limited funding, the DA’s office cannot afford to prosecute all of these these crimes. So the DA’s office and FCS partnered to try to get some of that money back for the victims — and this includes landlords.
The goals of the program are:
1. Increase the amount of restitution returned to victims of bad checks.
2. Increase the accountability of all worthless check writers (regardless of the amount of the check).
3. Educate local merchants about more effective check acceptance procedures.
4. Reduce the risk of repeat worthless check activity through training.
There is no cost to any landlord that wishes to try this diversion program. All costs of the program are born by the worthless check writer.
The program will handle the following kinds of checks: NSF, Account Closed, Stop Payment, Refer to Maker, Business to Business, RENT checks, debit card charge backs, ACH (Automatic Clearing House) charge backs, ACH NSF’s and electronic checks received in Milwaukee County that do not exceed $2,500.
The following types of checks will not be handled by the program: second-party checks, payroll checks, checks that are currently in collections with a collection agency or attorney, and promissory notes or any other situation in which there has been agreement to hold the check for deposit or credit extension.
The final two pages of the PDF that I have linked to above are the “Memorandum of Understanding” which the landlord would review, sign and return to FCS, and a Preliminary Worthless Check Report which the landlord should complete and send to the Milwaukee County DA Program. Hold on to these two pages . . . just in case you find yourself in a situation where this program can help you.
Once FCS receives the above info from the landlord the company will attempt to contact the person that passed the bad check. The criminal will then have the option of (1) entering into the program and paying restitution to the victim or (2) refuse to enter into the program in which case the matter will be sent for potential prosecution.
It is my understanding that FCS is also partnering with Racine County and Kenosha County in addition to Milwaukee County. FCS is not currently working with Waukesha County.
Those of you that are interested in learning more about this program may contact Mr. McNealy at (414) 393-9385 or visit his company’s website at www.financialcrimes.net
The AASEW has also schedule Mr. McNealy to speak about this program at its May meeting.