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Fraud Unit - Questions and Answers


What do I do if someone used my name or other personal identifier to open an account or to place an order online?

  1. Gather as much information about the account or order as possible, i.e. statements, invoices or any other information regarding the creation of the account or the placement of the order.

  2. Call the police department that services your residence. Supply them with the particulars of the incident and provide them with copies of all of the documents regarding the account/order.

What do I do if someone steals my credit/debit card? (And later uses it)

  1. Report the theft to the police department that services the location where the theft occurred.  Provide them with as much detailed information about the incident as possible.

  2. If the card has been used, you must make reports of the use to the agency that services the area that the card was used in.  If the card was used at a gas station in Brentwood, a McDonald’s in Unincorporated St. Louis County, and a Walgreen’s in Ferguson, you must make a report with each of these respective agencies.  This is the case because each use is considered a separate crime.

What do I do if I have my credit/debit card in my possession but someone has used it to make purchases without my permission?

  1. This is an Identity Theft. Determine where the card number was used and what was purchased if possible. Contact the police department that services the area where you reside and file a police report. Provide them with any relevant information, including any statements or invoices received. Non-local or internet orders may cause jurisdictional issues with the investigation, so your report may be for reference purposes only.

What do I do if someone from a “lottery” or “sweepstakes” contacts me in some way and says I have won a cash prize, but they want me to send them a “fee” in order to claim the prize?

  1. DO NOT under any circumstances send any money to this person/business….IT IS MOST LIKELY A SCAM!!

  2. If there is no financial loss, do not contact your local police department. Report this incident to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/crossborder or call 1-877-382-4357.

Someone wants to buy my item from my Craigslist/EBay/or other advertisement, but they want to pay me more for the item than was requested in the ad. What do I do?

  1. Stop correspondence with the individual and block any future communications if possible. Further correspondences with this person will most likely lead to them asking you to cash the check/money order sent for payment. They will then ask you to send a specified amount to another individual for shipping or some other related cost (this is sometimes done with a stolen credit card but the result will be the same). The payment is generally a counterfeit and you will soon be out the money you sent and any other money related to the deposit or cashing of the check or money order. Your bank will not cover your losses! THIS IS MOST LIKELY A SCAM…IF IT IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT USUALLY IS!!

  2. If you did send money, contact the police department that services your residence. Be forewarned that your local department will most likely not be able to investigate the incident due to jurisdictional issues. Your report will be for reference purposes only. You should also file a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/ or call 1-800-251-3221

I hired a contractor to do work for me and they never started or they stopped working and they will not return my phone calls. I paid them all or a portion of the amount due. What do I do?

  1. Depending on the circumstances this could be a civil or criminal matter:

      If no work has been done and any amount of money has been paid, it is criminal.

      If some work has been done but it is not equal to the amount paid, it is criminal.

      If some work is done and it is equal to the amount paid, it is civil.

      If no work has been done and no money has been paid but a contract has been signed, it is civil.

  2. If your situation fits one of the criminal situations described above, then you should first send the suspect a 10 day letter by Certified Mail. You should then call the police department that services the location the work was to be completed and file a report. Provide them with any documents relative to the incident and copies of the 10 day letter.

    Note: A 10 day letter is a demand letter sent to the suspect. It should reference the incomplete work and demand the suspect make good on the payment made to him/her within the 10 day period. It should always be sent via Certified Mail.


    Dear (Name of suspect),

    The work you or your business was to perform was (never started or not completed). You have 10 days from the receipt of this letter to return funds in the amount that was paid to you for work that was to be completed. If you do not make good on repayment, a police report will be filed and an investigation will be conducted. All payments must be made by cashier’s check or money order. Partial payment will not be accepted.

    Mail your payment to: (Your name and address)

What do I do if someone comes to my door demanding payment for work they say they completed on my property (house, car, etc.), but I did not ask for or authorize the work to be done?

Do not let these people in your house and CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS MOST LIKELY A SCAM!

Other Tips and Tricks


If you go to the gym, the pool, or other function where you can’t keep your valuables with you, make sure you place them in a secure area. The trunk of your vehicle, a locker, or some other secure location is best. If you choose your vehicle trunk do not get to your destination and place the valuables in your trunk. Stop somewhere before your final destination and move them then. Thieves sit in gym/pool/daycare parking lots and watch where you put your items, so stow them before you arrive.


Never leave valuables in your vehicle that can be seen when walking past. KEEP THEM HIDDEN! Also, thieves know what is under that blanket, coat, towel, etc. Take the time to secure these items in a safe place.


Check your credit report yearly for discrepancies or suspicious activity. This can be done for free, one time annually at https://www.annualcreditreport.com


When shopping online:

  • Only shop with reputable companies.
  • Check the business out before ordering. Check with the BBB or simply do a search of the business online.
  • If a password is required, keep it private, try and use a difficult combination of numbers and letters.
  • Try to make sure the website is secure. Reputable businesses will usually maintain links at the bottom of their site showing that business conducted is secure.
  • If at all possible avoid paying with a debit card.
  • DO pay with a credit card. These transactions are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which helps protect the consumer from fraudulent purchases.
  • After you place your order save the transaction information/confirmation numbers.


Never give your personal information to anyone on the phone, especially if they initiated the phone call. Your financial institution will never call and ask you for your account or personal information.


Keep a file of your valuables’ serial numbers in case they are stolen. Also, take pictures of your fine jewelry and keep them in the same file.


Shred documents that contain any personal information. Identity thieves will not hesitate to go through the trash.

St. Louis County Police Department

7900 Forsyth Blvd

Clayton, MO 63105

Emergency Calls: Call 911

Non-Emergency Reporting / General Information: (636) 529-8210

TDD: (636) 529-8220