Citizens and Businesses of St. Charles County
The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office Bad Check Unit assists citizens in the collection and prosecution of bad checks given to them in St. Charles County. Since its creation in December 1989, our unit has prosecuted thousands of bad checks cases and collected approximately $9 million in restitution. In 2014, the Bad Check Unit became part of the office's Financial Services Unit.
In one of their roles, the Financial Services Unit serves anyone who received a bad check in St. Charles County.
How to Obtain Owed Money
Once your bank returns a check and you have been unsuccessful in collecting from the issuer, you may send your bad check to our office. Follow the guidelines set out in the Merchants Handbook for Bad Checks (PDF), and please share this information with your employees and co-workers. Further, please make sure each check submitted to our office is accompanied by a fully completed Probable Cause Statement / Check Information Sheet (PDF).
The services of St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office in collecting and prosecuting bad checks are free to you, the victim of a bad check. The issuers of bad checks, not you, will pay any administrative costs as set out by Missouri law.
For the fastest response, questions for the unit should be directed to the Financial Services Unit via email.
If you receive a check that is not honored because the writer lacked sufficient funds or credit in the drawee account to pay the check or because the writer did not have an account with the institution the check was drawn on, the law of Missouri in Section 570.123, Missouri Revised Statues (RSMO), provides you with a choice of remedies:
Civil Action for Money
If you choose to pursue your civil remedy, you would take these steps:
- By certified or registered mail, send a notice that the check did not clear and a written demand for payment within 30 days to the maker of the check and to any endorser of the check at the address appearing on the check or to the last known address of each person. Keep a copy of the letter, the stub from the certified or registered mail form, and the green postcard if it is returned to you.
- If you do not receive payment within 30 days, file suit. You can represent yourself in small claims court if the amount of money you seek is not greater than $1,500.
- In addition to the face amount of the check you can ask for a penalty of 3 times the face amount of the check, but not less than $100 and not more than $500. You can also ask for attorney fees incurred in bringing the action if you have an attorney.
- When you have obtained a judgment, you will have to collect it if the writer does not pay it voluntarily.
Stop payment checks are governed by Section 570.125 Missouri Revised Statues (RSMO), a different statute from the one governing insufficient funds, account closed, and no account checks. Sometimes it is a crime to stop payment on a check. Sometimes it is not. The issue is whether or not the person stopping payment did so with the intent to defraud. If there is a dispute over the quality of goods or services, proving intent to defraud is often impossible.
If you receive a stop payment check, you can submit the check to this office; however, keep in mind that filing a criminal charge may not be possible. Before submitting a stop payment check to our office, you must send the check writer a certified letter regarding the check being returned.
Look at the Check
- Try to determine if the check is from a new account. Some checks are printed with a coded number by the address printed on the check or just above the signature line. This determines how old the account is. For example, the numbers 984 mean the account was opened in September 1984. This can help you, because the check writer can make a request to begin the new account with a higher number.
- Check the printed name and address. Do not take counter checks without an address or "starter checks" or new account checks without precautions.
- Check the date the check was written. We cannot prosecute postdated checks (a check dated several days later). If you accept a postdated check, it is at your own risk.
- Check if the check writer has altered any words or numerals on the check. Look for different colored ink, or any other suspicious differences.
Compare the check and the person writing the check with a valid driver's license.
- Look at the picture.
- Compare the signatures.
- Make sure the driver's license address is the same as printed on the checks. If the addresses do not match, verify and record the correct address.
- Make sure the driver's license is current and valid. Do not accept an expired license as valid identification.
Obtain Important Information
Obtain the driver's license number and the person's date of birth.
- The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office requires these before criminal charges can be filed. If you know your customer well, you may not normally take this information, but remember we cannot help you without this information. You and your employees should initial the check, so that the person accepting the check can be identified for court testimony.
- The driver's license is your primary source of identification. Record the date of birth as printed on the license.
- We recommend that you record this information on the front of the check. The bank usually stamps the back of the checks during processing, making essential information illegible.
- While these two pieces of identification are the minimum required by our office, the more information you can obtain the better for you and for us in trying to find the check writer. Other helpful information is the check writer's place of employment. Asking to see a major credit card will not help us file criminal charges, but it may assure you of their financial resources and that the person is who they say they are.
- We recommend not accepting or cashing checks from people who live out of state. Extradition from other states is an extremely expensive and difficult process.