How to Handle a Bad Check in Houston: The Demand Letter

If you had the good sense, and I’m sure you did, to follow the advice in part I of this series, collecting on that bad check you just got in the mail should be easy like Sunday morning. Unless, of course, you didn’t follow my advice, or the debtor has no money, or has moved out-of-state. Then, collecting is less Commodores and more Inner Circle.

The first step after opening your depressing bank statement is to send the check writer a letter. Practically, this is just a good idea. Communication is key, generally speaking. There is a chance, a good chance, the check writer does not know his check bounced and will be appalled that you did not get paid. He will promptly send the money to you, and we are back to the Commodores.

Of course, there is a second, better reason to write the letter. Texas law requires it before you can bring out the big guns: the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

The letter itself is pretty straightforward. In the letter include all the information about the check: the check writer’s name and address, the check number, the date, the amount of the check and the returned check charge (the maximum is $30). You also must include the following notice, exactly as written here, as specified under Texas law:

This is a demand for payment in full for a check or order not paid because of a lack of funds or insufficient funds. If you fail to make payment in full within 10 days after the date of receipt of this notice, the failure to pay creates a presumption for committing an offense, and this matter may be referred for criminal  prosecution.

You must send this letter via either registered or certified mail to the check writer. There is also a way to send the letter via first class mail, but it is simply easier to go with register or certified. Make sure to keep a copy of the letter you send along with all the documentation for sending it registered/certified mail.

At this point, I always feel there is no point in being nasty. The law is on your side, and you are almost guaranteed to win (but please note my legal disclaimer here and above: I guarantee nothing).  Write the letter, and if they don’t answer, you can file with the Harris DA and potentially have them arrested. We will go over that process in the next post.

You can download the official letter from the Harris County DA’s Office here.

Read Bad Checks: Part I.