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WASHINGTON — The Defense Commissary Agency is introducing a new processing procedure for returned checks, or those for which customers have insufficient funds to cover.

Patrons of stores in the Pacific theater can expect the changeover by the end of summer, those in Europe by the end of the year.

The new returned-check processing won’t affect the way shoppers write checks, nor will it change the penalty assessed for a bad check. That fee is $25.

Patrons will agree to the new system by reading signs labeled “Electronic Check Re-presentment Policy” posted at each cash register, said Jean Villarreal, project officer for the new plan.

A draft of the sign was read over the phone to Stripes. If consumers are confused by the language of the sign, “Supervisors and managers will be there to answer any questions,” said Jimaye Sones, DECA’s director of accounting. “All the stores are in the process of being trained for this.”

Returned checks now routed back to commissaries for collection will instead be routed to Solutran, a business that has performed this service for major U.S. grocery chains and such businesses as CVS and Linens ’N Things.

Commissary employees will no longer have to contact customers who wrote insufficient-fund checks. Instead, Solutran presents the checks electronically, on behalf of DECA, to the patron’s financial institution, which will electronically deduct the checks from customer’s account.

Solutran will take this money and the $25 fee and present it to DECA. These deductions have a high success rate because pay cycles have usually replenished customers’ accounts to cover the checks.

The initial rollout begins the last week of March at five commissaries in the United States: Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, Calif.; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; and Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Fla.

The plan is a collaborative effort between DECA, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the U.S. Department of Treasury, Bank of America and Solutran.

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