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I Wrote a Check at the Grocery Store That Bounced and Now I Owe a Lot. – Patricia

“Dear Jon,

I wrote a check at grocery store for $18.14 and my bank empty out my personal accont and it states I owe$ 259.14 . I was in despute where I was forced out reasadent I was not properly notified.

What do I do about this matter


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The Answer


I am a little unclear as to what happened, but am assuming you had a check bounce.

Was the account in question open at the time you wrote out the check or was it a closed account?

Who is stating you now owe $259.14? That seems an odd amount.

Have you discussed this with the store where you wrote he check?

What bank was this through and what was it you were not notified of?

Why did they empty your account?

In many instances when a person has a check bounce or returned as insufficient funds, there are fees involved, to the bank and possibly to whom the check was written.



I Wrote a Check at the Grocery Store That Bounced and Now I Owe a Lot.   PatriciaJon Emge is an experienced UK debt advisor who has helped thousands and thousands of people in the UK to deal with problem debt. Jon specialises in finding good solutions for problem debt using a variety of UK specific techniques.

If you have a question you’d like to ask about how to get out of UK debt, just use the online form. I’m happy to help you for free.

I Wrote a Check at the Grocery Store That Bounced and Now I Owe a Lot. - Patricia by

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  • Robert Platt Bell

    Bouncing a check is no laughing matter. It is called check fraud and it is a crime. And yes, you can end up owing hundreds of dollars for a bounced check, if you are not careful.

    You may recall the case of the fellow in Colorado who wrote a bad check to Domino’s for $25 and ended up paying over $250 for it. The store (their lawyer, actually) took him to court and then offered to settle on the eve of trial, for $250. And they were in the right about this – bounced checks are expensive for stores to deal with – they write-off thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars a year in bad debt.

    I am guessing that the bank applied a monthly “service charge” to your account, since it had a low balance (below $18, apparently) and that this service charge “cleaned out” your account. More and more banks are doing that these days, as they do not like to have customers who have small balances who are always bouncing checks.

    (It also allows them to slowly drain “dormant accounts” which are a nightmare for them. A friend of mine at the credit union explained to me that they had over 1000 dormant accounts with balances of less than $100. The cost of printing and mailing statements (which were returned, addressee unknown) was staggering. A monthly ‘inactive account’ fee allows them to drain these accounts and close them, over time.)

    I am also guessing that the $259.14 is the amount the grocery store is suing you for the bad check. It seems in line with the amounts that many lawyers ask in cases like this (the stores hand these cases off to the lawyers, who collect a fee on top of any monies recovered).

    Jon is right – you need to COMMUNICATE with the parties involved – the store, the bank, the attorney (if there is one). And the best way to do this is in WRITING. Phone calls are a waste of time. But don’t expect them to accept your excuses and “write off” the debt. That isn’t going to happen. No one accepts long-winded excuses about how a check bounced. It bounced, period. And now you owe the money – plus bounce fees, legal fees, and whatever. Not much you can do about that.

    Your goal here should be to make sure this does not appear on your credit record as a bad debt. Write to the parties, work out a payment arrangement, with the understanding that they will remove this from your credit report or show it as a paid debt.

    You can be jailed for check fraud, so it is important to settle this. And if you can minimize the damage to your credit rating, so much the better.

    The next step is to tear up your checkbook and open an account with a credit union. You need to start being more financially astute and stop bouncing checks. Yes, I used to do that nonsense when I was a beer-swilling 20-something. But then I woke up and realized that I had to grow up and accept responsibility for my own actions – or end up old, broke, and destitute.

    And part of that was learning to respect money and to keep track of it, down to the penny. I check my bank balances daily now (which is easy to do online) and haven’t bounced a check in well over a decade.

    You should never look at bouncing a check as a “whoops! Me Bad!” kind of thing. It is a crime in most States, and you could end up in jail. Take it very seriously!

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