Hey, Joe America. You goofed. You made an honest error and added something that you should have subtracted. You bounced a check. We've all done it.

You rightfully need to make the check good, and it's also reasonable for the bank to charge you an overdraft handling fee. And it should end there, right?

Wrong. In some areas prosecutors are now turning bounced checks over to "check-diversion" companies. private for-profit debt collection businesses. And, Joe, be warned -- some of these check-diversion joints are engaging in deceptive collection practices. Representatives poor on the verbal threats, literally scaring some people into paying way more than they owe.

Worse yet, it can affect people who have never bounced a check in their lives. How's that, you ask?

Since identity theft is the fastest growing fraud, people who have had their identities compromised can have bounced checks on their records -- even for bank accounts they never opened! The check may have been bounced on an account that the fraudster who stole their identity opened. Yup. It happens all the time. And it gets way worse when the debt collection company starts making threatening phone calls.

A few hints to protect yourself:

1. Don't bounce checks

2. Balance your checkbook monthly and monitor your bank accounts online weekly, if not more often.

3. Either get overdraft protection or keep extra money in your account to cover any errors you might make.