15 U.S. Code § 1692p - Exception for certain bad check enforcement programs operated by private entities

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(a) In general
(1) Treatment of certain private entities

Subject to paragraph (2), a private entity shall be excluded from the definition of a debt collector, pursuant to the exception provided in section 1692a(6) of this title, with respect to the operation by the entity of a program described in paragraph (2)(A) under a contract described in paragraph (2)(B).

(2) Conditions of applicabilityParagraph (1) shall apply if—
a State or district attorney establishes, within the jurisdiction of such State or district attorney and with respect to alleged bad check violations that do not involve a check described in subsection (b), a pretrial diversion program for alleged bad check offenders who agree to participate voluntarily in such program to avoid criminal prosecution;
a private entity, that is subject to an administrative support services contract with a State or district attorney and operates under the direction, supervision, and control of such State or district attorney, operates the pretrial diversion program described in subparagraph (A); and
(C) in the course of performing duties delegated to it by a State or district attorney under the contract, the private entity referred to in subparagraph (B)—
complies with the penal laws of the State;
conforms with the terms of the contract and directives of the State or district attorney;
does not exercise independent prosecutorial discretion;
(iv) contacts any alleged offender referred to in subparagraph (A) for purposes of participating in a program referred to in such paragraph—
only as a result of any determination by the State or district attorney that probable cause of a bad check violation under State penal law exists, and that contact with the alleged offender for purposes of participation in the program is appropriate; and
the alleged offender has failed to pay the bad check after demand for payment, pursuant to State law, is made for payment of the check amount;
(v) includes as part of an initial written communication with an alleged offender a clear and conspicuous statement that—
the alleged offender may dispute the validity of any alleged bad check violation;
where the alleged offender knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, that the alleged bad check violation is the result of theft or forgery of the check, identity theft, or other fraud that is not the result of the conduct of the alleged offender, the alleged offender may file a crime report with the appropriate law enforcement agency; and
if the alleged offender notifies the private entity or the district attorney in writing, not later than 30 days after being contacted for the first time pursuant to clause (iv), that there is a dispute pursuant to this subsection, before further restitution efforts are pursued, the district attorney or an employee of the district attorney authorized to make such a determination makes a determination that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed; and
charges only fees in connection with services under the contract that have been authorized by the contract with the State or district attorney.
(b) Certain checks excludedA check is described in this subsection if the check involves, or is subsequently found to involve—
a postdated check presented in connection with a payday loan, or other similar transaction, where the payee of the check knew that the issuer had insufficient funds at the time the check was made, drawn, or delivered;
a stop payment order where the issuer acted in good faith and with reasonable cause in stopping payment on the check;
a check dishonored because of an adjustment to the issuer’s account by the financial institution holding such account without providing notice to the person at the time the check was made, drawn, or delivered;
a check for partial payment of a debt where the payee had previously accepted partial payment for such debt;
a check issued by a person who was not competent, or was not of legal age, to enter into a legal contractual obligation at the time the check was made, drawn, or delivered; or
a check issued to pay an obligation arising from a transaction that was illegal in the jurisdiction of the State or district attorney at the time the check was made, drawn, or delivered.
(c) DefinitionsFor purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) State or district attorney

The term “State or district attorney” means the chief elected or appointed prosecuting attorney in a district, county (as defined in section 2 of title 1), municipality, or comparable jurisdiction, including State attorneys general who act as chief elected or appointed prosecuting attorneys in a district, county (as so defined), municipality or comparable jurisdiction, who may be referred to by a variety of titles such as district attorneys, prosecuting attorneys, commonwealth’s attorneys, solicitors, county attorneys, and state’s attorneys, and who are responsible for the prosecution of State crimes and violations of jurisdiction-specific local ordinances.

(2) Check

The term “check” has the same meaning as in section 5002(6) of title 12.

(3) Bad check violation

The term “bad check violation” means a violation of the applicable State criminal law relating to the writing of dishonored checks.

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