Question: Check bouncer won't respond. What now?

We’ve sent a letter to a parent regarding the insufficient funds on a check she gave us for payment of book fair items. She hasn’t responded to the letter. I’m looking for suggestions about what to do from here.

Asked by



Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

The fact that she hasn’t responded can mean one of several things: She didn’t get your letter; she’s bounced checks before and doesn’t care; or she’s embarrassed at the situation and doesn’t have the money to pay you back right now. Elly would bet it’s the last of the three.

Chances are, this parent’s bank has already sent her an overdraft notice and she knows your PTO is out the money. But you can also send acknowledgement by way of certified letter and request a return receipt, which costs a few dollars. Don’t ever return the check to the writer, though—it’s your proof of the debt.

You should also follow up with a phone call or an email. If you do contact her directly, keep it brief and professional. Just ask her when she thinks she’ll be able to make good on the bounced check and any related fees. Until she does, though, Elly recommends that all financial interactions (field trip or fundraiser payments, for example) with this parent be on a cash-only basis.

If you don’t hear back from her, you may want to try resubmitting the bounced check for payment. If her bank is local, you can try calling or going there directly to see whether enough money has since become available, rather than redepositing it at your own bank and possibly incurring more bank fees.

Elly prefers to avoid pressing criminal charges or using a professional collection agency—except, of course, in cases where the parent is a chronic offender and the sum of money your group stands to lose is significant. Otherwise, it’s usually not worth the bad blood it creates.

Answer this question: