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NSF check

An NSF check is issued when the bank account balance is insufficient to pay the beneficiary. The issuer of the check is sanctioned by a banking ban.

This is a serious problem since the banker can then trigger a banking prohibition procedure against the issuer of an NSF cheque. Nevertheless, the bank is obliged to notify the issuer of the situation before rejecting the check, which leaves him the possibility of regularizing his situation.

Banking prohibition, sanction of bad checks

Before refusing the payment of a check for lack of funds, the bank must contact its client, by any means previously agreed with the latter. It must inform him of the consequences of the rejection of the check and allow him to immediately constitute a sufficient provision.

If no regularization has taken place, the bank is required, after having rejected the check, to notify the Banque de France within two days, as well as to send a letter of injunction to the issuer. This forces him to:  

  • return all the checks he has in his possession, even from other banks,
  • no longer issue other checks for five years, unless a regularization occurs before.

The account holder is then prohibited from banking until the incident is regularized, or for a maximum period of 5 years.

The banking prohibition concerns all personal accounts opened in the name of the issuer of the NSF cheque, held in all banks.

In the event of a joint account or an undivided account, the banking ban is extended to other holders, in respect of solidarity on the provision of the account.

In the event of a check payment incident on a joint account, all co-holders are subject to banking prohibition, even the one who did not issue the rejected check. And the banking prohibition measure applies to all their accounts, even individual accounts. However, it is possible to designate in advance a single responsible holder in the event of an incident. In this case, only the latter is subject to the banking ban on the joint account and its accounts.

Bank charges due to the rejection of a check are capped at €30 for checks of an amount less than or equal to €50 and at €50 for those of an amount greater than €50.

Regularize an NSF check

The regularization makes it possible to lift the ban on checkbooks. For this, it is necessary to have paid the recipient the amount of the sum due or to have sufficiently provisioned the bank account.

There are three adjustment methods :

  • You replenish sufficient funds and the beneficiary presents his check for payment. The debit from the account proves the adjustment.
  • You pay directly to the beneficiary of the check by another means (bank transfer or payment in cash). You collect the check and return it to your bank as proof of regularization.
  • You can ask your bank to block the amount corresponding to the amount of the check. This provision is intended for the exclusive payment of this check. It becomes available again when the check is represented and paid. If he is not represented for one year, the provision becomes available again. You can then request the return of the blocked funds. The regularization of the incident is carried out by the constitution of a blocked provision allocated to the payment of the check.

The bank transfer to the credit of the account of the beneficiary of the unpaid check is not sufficient proof to request the lifting of the banking prohibition. You must necessarily recover the initial check whose payment had been refused for lack of funds. Then you will hand it over to your bank. If you cannot recover the cheque, you must seize the judge in chambers to make him note the regularization of the account.

As soon as you have regularized your situation, your bank will lift the ban by informing the Banque de France which, in turn, will inform all the other banks so that the ban is canceled everywhere.

Your bank is not obliged to give you back a checkbook. She may ask you to prove yourself for a while before giving you one back. 

The risks of criminal sanction

A penal sanction may be imposed if the issuer ever had the intention of infringing the rights of others.

Different actions can correspond to this qualification:

  • voluntarily withdraw all or part of the provision of the check issued;
  • make an unlawful opposition;
  • issue a check when you are subject to a banking (or legal) ban.

The penalty incurred is then extremely severe since it can reach a fine of 375,000 euros and five years in prison (as well as a legal ban on issuing checks for a maximum of five years).