NSF Checks

Check Fraud

The St. Helens Police Department has prepared these prevention guidelines to inform local businesses of the Policies and Procedures of the St. Helens Police Department regarding bad check cases. If your bad check situation is one that cannot be pursued criminally we would encourage you to consider filing a claim in small claims court. We hope that this information will answer any questions about the Policies and Procedures of the St. Helens Police Department and in turn will help keep your businesses free from bad checks. We would ask that all employers share these guidelines with their employees and require that these procedures be strictly enforced.

If a check is returned and you feel that it is a forgery, theft or other type of fraud, please contact the police immediately. The guidelines established in this policy ONLY apply to NSF and closed account checks.

What is Negotiating a Bad Check?

Oregon Revised Statute 165.065 defines the crime of Negotiating a Bad Check as follows:

  1. A person commits the crime of Negotiating a Bad Check if the person makes, draws or utters a check or similar sight order for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored by the drawee.
  2. For purposes of this section, unless the check or order is post-dated, it is prima facia evidence of knowledge that the check or order would not be honored if;
    1. The drawer has no account with the drawee at the time the check or order is drawn or uttered; or
    2. Payment is refused by the drawee for lack of funds, upon presentation within 30 days after the date of utterance, and the drawer fails to make good within 10 days after receiving notice of refusal.

What Kinds of Checks Fit This Criterion?

Policies established by the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office and the City of St. Helens City Attorney’s Office are very specific regarding check cases that will be prosecuted. In cooperation, the St. Helens Police Department will NOT accept checks for prosecution that are as follows:

  • Pre-Dated, Post-Dated or Updated.
  • Drawn on an out of state bank.
  • More than sixty (60) days old when presented to the police.
  • Not presented to the bank within thirty (30) days of receipt.
  • Received by the complainant in the mail.
  • Given to pay a gambling debt.
  • “Two-Party” check, unless it is a forgery.
  • The complainant or the complainants employee cannot identify the writer or the check writer did not show the recipient at least one piece of valid picture identification.
  • Partial payment or an arrangement of credit had been made.
  • A deposit was made to cover the check.

What Can I Look For?

Persons accepting checks can assist in the prosecution of these cases by assuring that all of the proper identification is obtained from the check writer. A key to successful criminal prosecution is identification of the writer. We recommend in every case that the writer be required to present an Oregon Driver’s License or Oregon Identification card. In addition to the driver’s license or identification card we recommend any combination of the following. Please use these cards for comparison of signatures and photos only. Do not cash a check based on these cards alone.

  • Local store charge account cards.
  • Check guarantee cards.
  • Employment Identification cards.
  • Student body cards.


  • If you do not personally know the person cashing the check, always ask for their identification.
  • A check should at least have a full name, address, telephone number and ODL or ID card number.
  • If you are not comfortable in cashing the check, consult your supervisor or just refuse the check.
  • For prosecution in court, we must know who cashed the check… If an employee cannot identify the writer of a check, we cannot prosecute.

What if I Receive A Bad Check?

  1. Write a letter to the maker of the check and send it by Certified Mail Restricted Delivery within thirty (30) days of the date of utterance.  In the letter advise the writer that they have ten (10) days to make the check good.  If this is not done, advise that the bad check will be turned over to the police.
  2. When you have been given a receipt from the post office, check the date that the letter was received. From that date the writer has ten (10) days to make the check good. Keep the post office receipt. It will be needed for evidence in court.
  3. If you wish to contact the writer in person or by telephone, again advise the writer that they have ten (10) days to make the check good or the check will be turned over to the police. Make a note of your conversation for court.
  4. Once ten (10) days have passed, report this incident to the police. Do not proceed to the police until ten (10) days have passed.

Remember: In cases involving NSF checks, Oregon law requires that the writer be notified and given ten (10) days to make the check good. If you are unable to contact the writer of the check, the writer cannot be prosecuted.

What Will The St. Helens Police Do?

Once the police are notified, the police will check to see if the check meets all of the requirements for prosecution. If your check satisfies the requirements, a criminal investigation will begin.

Remember: Criminal Courts are not a collection agency. If you have received a partial payment for a check or the check does not meet the established criteria, we cannot assist you.

What If I Receive a Check That Does Not Fall Under These Guidelines?

Remember that there are civil remedies for bad check cases. ORS. 30.700 provides that a person who issues a NSF check or writes a check on a closed account can be held liable in an amount equal to one hundred dollars ($100.00) or three (3) times the amount of the check, whichever is greater.

The writer may also be held responsible for any court costs. For further information in this area please contact the Columbia County Courts at (503) 397-2327.

Contacting the St. Helens Police Department

If you have any questions or need to report a bad check, please contact the St. Helens Police Department at (503) 397-3333 or (503) 397-1521.