Tulare County Deputy District Attorney Don Galian said, "During Christmas time and because the economy is so poor is that we are noticing an increase in people who are writing bad checks
The district attorney's office has instituted its "Bad Check Restitution Program" which allows retailers a better opportunity at getting back lost money from a faulty check.
The program tracks down suspected bad check writers ... then offers them a chance to pay up and take part in a money managing class ... all in exchange for avoiding jail time. So far in 2009, more than 25 hundred bad checks have been repaid.
Gallian said, "About $89,000 in restitution was recovered and paid back to people who had received the bad checks."
The DA says smaller businesses are usually hit harder than large corporate stores. Retailers we talked to in Downtown Visalia say a bad check can be detrimental to business, especially around this time of year.
Brides 'N Maidens owner Niveria Borges says she had to institute a new check policy at her store after too many bad checks put her business in jeopardy.
Borges said, "We can't stay in business if merchandise is leaving and not being paid for so we have to protect ourselves."
Borges now warns customers with a DA sticker on her cash register. She also waits three weeks for a check to clear before handing over any item she sells to the customer.
Michael's Custom Jewelry has also recently put in place a new camera system that identifies customers who come in ... just in time for the holidays.
Jennifer Marlow said, "So that does I think curb our bad checks here we also take two forms of ID."
People convicted of writing a bad check can get up to three years in prison