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American Corrective Counseling Services (ACCS) and the Bounced Checks

In an effort to help state governments deal with bounced and bad checks, some states have outsourced the dealings with the checks to for-profit debt collectors like American Corrective Counseling Services in California. ACCS has relationships with about 150 county District Attorney (DA) offices. In return for the referral of cases to ACCS, the local DA offices get a cut of the money collected from the consumer.

ACCS has been sending letters to consumers (See sample letter), approximately two million a year, that certainly appear to come directly from the state or local DA office. But the fact is these letters are not sent from the state, but are instead used as a scare tactic.

American Corrective Counseling Services (ACCS) and the Bounced Checks

The letters certainly appear that the consumer receiving it will be subject to criminal prosecution but in many part of the country, that is simply not true.

Contracts between ACCS and the DA offices say that “The principal business of ACCS is the provision of educational seminars, consulting, and administrative support services to State and County prosecutors’ offices that have adopted a pre-trial misdemeanor bad check diversion program.”

And does ACCS not only intentionally threaten legal action, which it has not authority to undertake, but the primary reason for doing this is to sell the consumer a counseling session.

Again, according to the ACCS contract: (See contract here)

Seminars ACCS will conduct all Diversion Program Seminars. In that regard ACCS will provide qualified instructors to conduct the Seminars, provide its proprietary Seminar materials to class Participants, lease the required facilities to conduct Seminars, monitor the attendance at the Seminars, and communicate directly with Seminar Participants regarding scheduling, attendance, and related administrative details. Classes shall be scheduled in convenient location within XXXX County and will normally be help on Saturdays. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Instructors will typically hold advanced degrees in a counseling related field (e.g. psychology or social work). ACCS will continue to develop and refine its class curriculum and educational material, and will conduct ongoing training and evaluation of all ACCS instructors. ACCS will provide its “Checks & Balances” Class as the Seminar for Participants. The class is designed to remove many of the behavioral rationalizations surrounding the writing of bad checks, as well as focus on deficiencies in the areas of personal finance, communication, and stress management. Class size will average from 12 to 25 Participants. An ACCS “Checks & Balances” Personal Study Program may be utilized in lieu of a live class if participant volume is not sufficient to hold a live class or for those Participants who are incapable of attending class due to a valid medical reason or if the Participant lives outside a reasonable distance from the class site.”

The useless and worthless class that consumers are scared into attending costs them $140-$160 plus a series of other miscellaneous potential charges.

What makes this situation so disturbing is that it seems that the District Attorney offices that are outsourcing these collections and classes are renting their official State Seals to a private company and knowingly allowing the private company to scare consumers with criminal action to force the consumer to pay a fee for a useless class.

For more information about this situation, see the excellent work by Propublica on this issue.

American Corrective Counseling Services (ACCS) and the Bounced Checks by

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  • Barbaragossman

    I am disappointed to see this information on here. The state’s attorney’s office outsources for this offense rather than having the person have to appear in court. This program is educational and less costly than court and does not go on your record. This program is similar to the driving classes that can be taken so that it does not go on your record and make insurance rates higher. The states attorney’s office allows the program to generate the letters with their permission since ACS is coordinating the services. There is nothing going on that is inappropriate, this is not a scam. Individuals are responsible to pay for the services and goods when they receive them. Not doing this is illegal. If it is an oversight it should be taken care of immediately. The money that is charged for the class ect is allocated as other fines and fees are in court. It is not a secret and the program is offered as an alternative to a court appearance. Blaming others and not taking accountability for actions will only lead to future problems.

  • Barbaragossman

    I am disappointed to see this information on here. The state’s attorney’s office outsources for this offense rather than having the person have to appear in court. This program is educational and less costly than court and does not go on your record. This program is similar to the driving classes that can be taken so that it does not go on your record and make insurance rates higher. The states attorney’s office allows the program to generate the letters with their permission since ACS is coordinating the services. There is nothing going on that is inappropriate, this is not a scam. Individuals are responsible to pay for the services and goods when they receive them. Not doing this is illegal. If it is an oversight it should be taken care of immediately. The money that is charged for the class ect is allocated as other fines and fees are in court. It is not a secret and the program is offered as an alternative to a court appearance. Blaming others and not taking accountability for actions will only lead to future problems.

  • Rutts

    This is a dispicable program. I recently received one of these fraudulent notices – the merchant denied providing any information. They are a criminal enterprise and the state’s attorney’s involved in this prgram and barney frank who approved it, without debate, should hold their heads in shame.

  • Eric

    First of all, no one is forced to participate in this program. If you read the notice, they are offered to participate in the program in order to avoid potential criminal charges. The bad check writer can refuse the program and request court, as is their right.
    Second, you seem to loose sight of the fact that the people who are reported to this program have not only passed a bad check, but allowed it to remain unpaid for several months. Who is speaking up for the merchants (the true victims)?
    Third, what would the District Attorneys do with the 2 million crime reports a year this company handles? Prosecute every single one of them equally? Use tax funds to chase bad check writers down?
    Company’s such as this are becoming more and more necessary as America’s courts and law enforcement agencies become increasingly overburdened.

    • Rutts

      Eric, you assume that this company is following the correct procedures. They are not. There are no pre notices, they are obtaining the information fraudulently. I received one without even bouncing a check. When you call them they don’t identify themselves, the notices they send are deceptive and misleading. The program is bad law and bad policy and is indefensible. This company also went into chapter 11 to avoid class actions law suits. I agree in principle, bad checks need to be dealt with, but by a reputable company and with a more ethical and transparent process.

  • JHagain

    What kind of solution are you looking for. What I would do is contact the proper authorities, document EVERYTHING by asking for copies of the faxes your bank sent including dates and the like, go to the consumer advocate sites like Rip Off Report and file a complaint(guess what? They do read these and don’t like it when complaints make them look like idiots and will settle with you and get it off your record). It’s a pain but as the saying goes a squeaky wheel usually gets oiled and it off your back but you have to be persistant. Good luck. Remember because of the way this is economy is going to hell in a handbag your complaints will have a lot of impact. The taxpayers of this country need to be proactive and not tolerate the abuse some of these companies have heaped upon. This is why ACCS is going bankrupt. Do you really want your tax dollars going towards a bailout for their incompetent CEOs who will get golden parachutes of hundreds of thousand of dollars they didn’t, don’t and never will deserve when they decide to resign from their jobs. Good luck.

  • Raye Ann Saunoris

    About a year I have been dealing with certegy because my bank made an error. My bank wrote and faxed numerous letters and paid there fees but did not clear up my name. Constant calls of harassment, embarassment of bouncing checks, cash station charges, wasted time faxing and calling the company in Fla. and riley’s office in Chicago. Raye Ann

  • JHagain

    Claim yourself “creditor” with the amount of money you spent if you know (fortunately I kept all of my documentation and was able to give an exact amount) and send it to the address indicated on the claim form. The instructions and claim form are a little confusing as to the exact address. As Steve said, you may or may not be able to recover your money for it but there is a class action suit in the works against ACCS. If you have any further questions go to http://www.budhibbs.com. You can also log on to Pacer website which is on the claim form in the corner column to see if SCH Corp. has filed your claim. Mine has not yet been but it could be taking some time to process the claims.

  • LaTonia

    I understand that, Im just not sure what I should be putting on the claim. I did pay the bad check recovery people monies about 3 to 4 years ago.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      LaTonia,

      I can’t help you fill out the claim form. Just answer the questions the best you can.

      Steve

  • JH again

    I’m not sure if some of my other messages went through. I believe that ACCS may have violated the Fair Credit Act and that is why people are getting postcards saying they “may” be a creditor and have a claim. Follow the instructions by going http://www.schcorppoc.com, download the claim form and fill it out. Get a copy of the form on the instructions. You may be able to recover your money.

  • JH

    I never realized that this could be a scam and participated in the program. A couple of days ago I received a postcard saying that they got my name from ACCS records and that I might have a claim as they were filing for bankruptcy. I followed their instructions but I also googled and you tell me that this is a scam. The class was informative but they never tell you whether the money you pay including the $170 I paid plus the amount of the check is ever forwarded to the originating payee. I’ll never know if that was reimbursed to the company.

  • jon

    I cannot believe what I am reading This ACCS Company Should be prosicuted to the fullest SHAME ON ACCS

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