In the year 2002 at least 80,000 hot checks were written in Lubbock County. It's a staggering number that unfortunately is on the rise, so what are local businesses doing to combat this problem?
Every day in Lubbock there are about 200 to 300 hot checks written, even though the penalties are steep, it still happens more than you'd think. Lubbock is unique compared to other cities, here you can pay for almost anything with a check but that trend may soon change.
At Fox and Hound, they stopped taking checks at the beginning of the year. "We stopped taking checks around the first of the year because we were having a really big problem with returned checks, a lot of checks were coming back to us unpaid and it was costing us a lot of money," said Manager Tom Reed.
Reed says this Fox and Hound accepted checks because traditionally establishments in the area do, but numerous bad checks have forced them to put an end to that convenience. "You can have a finger print, their number, their name, but still if the moneys not in the bank then we don't receive the money."
It's the same situation at Olive Garden, management there couldn't go on camera, but told us they recently stopped taking checks because their losing money on returned checks.
Double Daves pizza Owner Scott Mosier says he's battling the same financial situation. "Roughly four or six months ago our percentage of bad checks went up immensely and our bank certainly hits us with a service charge when one goes through so it's gotten pretty tough to take checks."
Mosier says he has considered avoiding checks altogether, but he fears the trade off could mean losing business. "We certainly wish we could but at this point we can't because so many people use that as their form of payment, but yes I would love to stop taking checks," Mosier said.
NewsChannel 11 also spoke with an administrator at the Hot Check Division in the District Attorney's office who says the number of hot checks in Lubbock County has been increasing over the last few years, but collections are up as well. Writing hot checks can be a class A, or B misdemeanor or a felony charge, on top of a stiff fee you could also end up with jail time.