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What to do if You've Written Bad Checks

written by: Stephanie Mojica•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 5/23/2010

If you've written bad checks and had your name entered in a bad check database it may affect your ability to write checks at a store or even open a bank account. However, there are legal ways to get around these in some cases.

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    Writing bad checks can have a number of consequences that potentially affect one's financial future. Most merchants like grocery stores, clothing shops, and restaurants report incidents of returned checks to bad check databases. Some of the most common companies collecting such data include Chexsystems, SCAN, Telecheck, and Certegy. Being listed in any of these databases can make it hard to write a check somewhere else, even if the returned check was eventually paid. Being listed in databases such as Chexsystems and Telecheck can also make it more difficult to open a banking account. Fortunately, there are a few legal ways to be able to get past bad check databases.

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    Banking Issues

    Credit unions are more likely to extend checking accounts to people with bad credit or a history of bad or bounced checks. Some small local banks and credit unions do not check these databases before giving accounts, trusting that community members will not bounce checks in their own hometown. However, it is important to consider that writing a bad check can be a crime in all states and that writing bad checks can cost you a lot of fees and embarrassment. The best way to combat the need to get past bad check databases is to only write checks when you have sufficient funds in the account at the time of your purchase.

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    New Checking Accounts

    If you are able to get a new checking account and even use a different form of government identification such as a passport or a state identification card, you will likely be able to write checks anywhere. This is because bad check databases usually keep information such as the checking account the bad check was originally written from as well as the ID number of the form of identification used to write the check. Almost all stores do not have access to your Social Security number, so if you have a legal additional identification coupled with a different checking account you can legally write checks at most stores once again. However, be sure not to bounce checks because the same problem will hinder your financial future.