Shared Check Authorization Network (SCAN) is a comprehensive database of bad check writers in the United States. The database is used by retailers in order to reduce the number of bad checks received. The database keeps track of those who have written outstanding bad checks to any retailer using the system, and retailers can determine, based on these records, whether or not to accept a check from a particular accountholder.
Retailers using the SCAN system have at least one scanner in the store, and often one at every register, that is used to scan checks that are written. The scanner reads the account number and compares it with the database of checking account numbers for which bad checks have been written to any participating retailer and not repaid. If the account number matches one in the system, the retailer will be notified, and will not likely accept the check.
Non-sufficient funds (NSF) is a term used in the banking industry to indicate that a demand for payment (a cheque) cannot be honored because insufficient funds are available in the account on which the instrument was drawn. In simplified terms, a cheque has been presented for clearance, but the amount written on the cheque exceeds the available balance in the account. An NSF cheque is often referred to as a bad cheque or dishonored cheque, or more colloquially, a bounced cheque, cold cheque, rubber cheque, returned item, or hot check.
When a bad check is written, the following consequences may occur:
The payment system is an operational network - governed by laws, rules and standards - that links bank accounts and provides the functionality for monetary exchange using bank deposits. The payment system is the infrastructure (consisting of institutions, instruments, rules, procedures, standards,and technical means) established in effect the transfer of monetary value between parties discharging mutual obligations. Its technical efficiency determines the efficiency with which transaction money is used in the economy, and risk associated with its use.
What makes it a "system" is that it employs cash-substitutes; traditional payment systems are negotiable instruments such as drafts (e.g., checks) and documentary credits such as letter of credits. With the advent of computers and electronic communications a large number of alternative electronic payment systems have emerged. These include debit cards, credit cards, electronic funds transfers, direct credits, direct debits, internet banking and e-commerce payment systems. Some payment systems include credit mechanisms, but that is essentially a different aspect of payment. Payment systems are used in lieu of tendering cash in domestic and international transactions and consist of a major service provided by banks and other financial institutions.
A bad check restitution program (BCRP) is a program that works to retrieve funds from bad check writers in order to repay moneys owed to the recipients of the checks. In other words, these are debt collection operations. Many of these programs are operated by private companies that add fees that may exceed $200, regardless of the amount of the check. They call thees operations "bad check enforcement," or "bad check restitution," or "bad check diversion." Sometime, these programs are actually run in house by realprosecutors. The private companies send check writers letters which state basicallly, that to avoid being prosecuted, the check writer may enroll in an expensive diversion program. In most instances, the prosecution threats are false and made only to coerce payment of high fees.
Very few states have laws that specifically permit district attorneys to allow private collection agencies to collect checks in the district attorney's name. About half of all U.S. states offer some type of Bad Check Restitution Program, and these services vary in many ways. Some accept NSF, and closed account checks while others may accept stopped payment checks and markers. It will also be noted that most have time limits (checks may need to be less than 90 or 180 days old and most need to be at least 30 days old and have had to have notice to check maker that the check has been returned unpaid with a demand for payment in a specified time). Some will not accept checks that were written under certain circumstances, including a post-dated check, one that the check writer asked the recipient to hold, or one that was written as an extension of credit.