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SOLICITOR’S WORTHLESS CHECK PROGRAM TOPS $2 MILLION IN COLLECTIONS

Solicitor Trey Gowdy’s effort to crack down on worthless checks has collected more than $2 million for Spartanburg County clients and local government.

The program, which began July 1, 2004, has collected more than $1.45 million in restitution and service fees and more than $571,000 in fees for Spartanburg County’s General Operating Fund. The Solicitor’s Office doesn’t keep any of the money.

Hundreds of merchants and individuals have submitted checks to the free program. Participants must complete a one-page information form and submit a copy of the bad check.

The Solicitor’s Office tracks down the offender in an effort to collect payment for the bad check. Victims receive the full amount of the check plus a $30 service charge levied by banks. The offender also pays $41 in court costs and additional fees ranging from $50 to $150 depending on the amount of the check. If the offender fails to pay, the case is referred to court for prosecution. If the offender pays the full amount before an arrest warrant is issued, they can resolve the case without having a blemish on their criminal record.

On a busy week, the Solicitor’s Office sends 200-300 letters to bad check writers. Most people comply with the request for payment.

Prior to the inception of the worthless check program, local check recipients were responsible for collecting their debt.

“When we call them (bad check writers), their attitude is indifferent,” said Javed Virani, owner of the Fastway convenience store in Enoree. “When the Solicitor’s Office contacts them, their attitude is different.”

Virani estimates that he has received payment on about 90 percent of the checks submitted and he recommends it to others.

Solicitor Gowdy’s worthless check program is also thriving in Cherokee County. The three-year-old program has collected more than $332,000 in restitution and service fees for local victims. The program generated an additional $226,000 in revenue for Cherokee County’s General Operating Fund.

“This program is a successful partnership between our staff, county government and the local business community,” Gowdy said. “I’m confident our numbers will continue to grow as more people learn about this hassle-free approach to recouping their losses.”

Program Coordinator Sheila Davis said merchants can improve their chances of recouping lost money by making sure they collect check writers drivers license number and their physical mailing addresses instead of post office boxes.

“The extra step helps us help you,” Davis said.

For more information on the Spartanburg County Worthless Check Program, call (864) 596-2233. For more information on the Cherokee County Worthless Check Program, call (864) 487-6215.