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Originally published: 2014-05-30 09:24:48
Last modified: 2014-05-30 09:25:32

Courthouse credit card payment system available

by Allison Haver

For the first time, Watauga County citizens will be able to pay fines and court costs using their credit or debit cards.

Besides the usual cash or check, citizens can now make payments at the county courthouse for some types of costs and fees with their American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa cards along with government issued photo identification.

Prior to the acceptance of credit cards, the courts accepted only cash, money orders, or cashier's checks when citizens had to pay fines and related court costs in the courthouse.

Not only will the new payment system provide immediate benefits to Watauga County citizens but to court officials and staff, county officials said.

While it will provide a more convenient payment option for citizens, the system will also enable a faster "end-of-day register close out procedures for clerks with less time spent counting cash drawers, officials said.

According to a release sent out by the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, the new system had processed nearly 24,000 transactions statewide totaling more than $4 million.

Watauga County processed 90 transactions between April 8 and April 30.

"We are pleased to offer expanded services to anyone needing to pay court fines and fees," said Clerk of Superior Court Diane Cornett Deal said in a release.

"Many people are unsure how much they will owe when they come to court to take care of a case," Deal said.

"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," she said.

The new payment system has been implemented in all 100 counties throughout the state this month, which is ahead of the statute mandate of January 2015.

Credit and debit card payments must be $1,000 or less, and can be applied to criminal, civil and other fees with the exception of alimony, bond forfeiture, cash bonds, child support purge payments, civil judgments, condemnation awards, disputed funds, rent bonds, trusts and upset bids.

These categories are exempt because of the increased financial risk involved with these types of payments according to the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

A convenience fee is charged at the time of each credit or debit card payment and is remitted to a third-party company.