May 29--The Wilson County Courthouse has launched a new system enabling residents to pay fines and related court costs via credit and debit card. Officials said the system will be more convenient for not only residents but court officials and staff.
"We are pleased to offer expanded services to anyone needing to pay court fines and fees," said Andrew J. Whitley, Wilson County's clerk of superior court. "Many people are unsure how much they will owe when they come to court to take care of a case. Now, when their case is completed, they are able to take care of their fines and court costs without having to leave the building to get the cash, cashier's check or money order."
The courthouse now accepts American Express, MasterCard and Visa cards along with a valid government-issued photo identification.
As of this month, the system has been implemented in all counties across the state ahead of the January 2015 statute mandate.
The credit card payment system is expected to allow faster end-of-day register closeout procedures for clerks.
As of April 30, Wilson County courthouse processed 43 transactions totaling nearly $6,500, according to court officials. As of last week, the new credit card system processed 24,000 transaction totaling more than $4 million statewide.
"The credit card payments systems is a win-win system," Judge John W. Smith, N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts director, said in a statement. "Accepting credit and debit cards is more convenient for the public and more efficient for the state."
HOW IT WORKS
Credit/debit card payments must be $1,000 or less and can be applied to criminal, civil and other fees. Exceptions include alimony, bond forfeiture, cash bonds, child support purge payments, civil judgments, condemnation awards, disputed funds, rent bonds, trusts and upset bids, officials said.
Court officials said the exceptions are due to the increased financial risk involved with those types of payments. There is a convenience fee charged at the time of each credit/debit payment, which is remitted to a third-party company.
Except for that convenience fee, most monies taken in do not stay with the courts but instead go to other state and local government agencies.
In 2010, the N.C. Office of Administrative Courts implemented payNCticket program, which allows drivers to pay tickets online. The online service accepts payments for traffic and other offenses that will not be contested in court, according to officials. This system also accepts credit or debit cards.
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