Philadelphia loses big money on bounced checks

The city of Philadelphia has lost a lot of money by not properly addressing bounced checks.

Inspector General Amy Kurland’s review of the year between June 2011 and 2012 showed the city lost nearly $350,000 by not following through on checks that did not clear the bank.

“Many of the departments took absolutely no action at all,” she said. “The bounced check would be returned to them and they would do nothing.

“The second situation was there was some isolated recordkeeping, the bounced checks would be noted in the records but there would be no collection effort,” she said.

Kurland, who said she hopes a new chief collections officer appointed this week will make a difference, has offered some recommendations.

“Right up front, we think that there needs to be a much stronger and improved screening process. They could use check scanners, there could have notification for repeat individuals so you wouldn’t take bad checks from the same person,” Kurland said Thursday. “Second, we think there needs to be stronger collection efforts — and that needs to be centralized.”

Kurland noted the Philadelphia Parking Authority uses software that puts a hold on money as it is deposited into a check-bouncing individual’s bank account.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.