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Worthless Checks

Returned check fee amounts

Checks written as payment to consumer credit transactions

1. Closed-end credit - fee limited to $15 (Section 422.202(1)(d) Wis. Statutes)

2. Open-end credit - fee amount is unlimited (Section 422.202(2m)(a) Wis. Stats.)

Checks written as payment to debts other than consumer credit transactions

The writer is liable for all reasonable costs and expenses in connection with
the collection of the check or draft. (Section 403.414(7) Wis. Stats.)


Intentionally writing a worthless check is a crime if the check was not postdated or not given for a past consideration (except a payroll check)

Class A misdemeanor - Writing a worthless check of not more than $2,500. {943.24(1)}

Class I felony - Writing a worthless check of more than $2,500 or within 15 days writing more than one check where the aggregate amount is more than $2,500. {943.24(2)} (Class E felony before 2-1-03)


Intentionally writing a worthless check

Writing a worthless check can be considered intentional when there is:

1. Proof that, at the time of issuance, the writer did not have an account with the financial institution, {943.24(3)(a)}, or

2. Proof that, at the time of issuance or when presented within a reasonable time, the writer did not have sufficient funds or credit with the financial institution and that the writer failed within 5 days after receiving notice of nonpayment to pay the check. {943.24(3)(b) & (c)}

Additional Rights of Payee

In certain limited situations, a person who receives a worthless check (i.e., payee) can hold the writer of the check liable for additional damages. In these situations the payee may bring a civil action under section 943.245(1m). If a judgment is awarded to the payee under 943.245 the court may award:

a) The face value of the check;
b) Any actual damages not covered in item a;
c) Exemplary damages of not more than 3 times the amount of items a and b; and
d) Court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
(Total awarded for exemplary damages and attorney fees may not exceed $500)

Before a lawsuit may be filed under s. 943.245 the plaintiff must notify the defendant at least 20 days prior to commencing the legal action, of the plaintiff’s intent to bring the legal action. At a minimum, the notice should be sent by regular mail supported by an affidavit of service of mailing. Prior to commencement of any legal action the debtor should not be billed for items b, c and d because if the debtor pays the check, and any allowable costs under s. 403.414(7), prior to the commencement of the lawsuit the debtor is not liable under s. 943.245.