Cheques as a Form of Payment

Fraud attempts are currently underway using fake cheques. These scams follow this pattern:
  • The fraudster contacts the seller and offers to pay for the item through a cheque sent by mail. The amount is usually higher than the original asking price.
  • The fraudster asks the seller to send the extra payment to a specific company to cover shipping costs.
  • The cheque the seller received is recognized as fraudulent by the banking institution and the seller is out of pocket for the extra amount and the original item shipped.

Please do not send money to cover shipping until a deposited cheque has cleared and been approved by the bank. Ask your bank for details on this process. Please read the safety tips below and report any suspicious activity to our customer service team.

Being a local community website, we generally recommend that users have their transactions occur in person and with cash. As a safe alternative to carrying cash, consider choosing your preferred third party cashless payment method (at your own discretion). Secure cashless payment methods include electronic money transfers (Interac e-transfers). However, should you decide to take a cheque for a purchase there are a few things we suggest you keep in mind to keep yourself safe. 

First, ask yourself why a cheque is necessary. If the buyer has a long story about why they can’t pick the item up in person we recommend you take a look at the following article to see if anything sounds familiar. These are common examples of scams where payment is often needed either by cheque, money order or e-transfer. 

If nothing stands out, and you go ahead with the transaction, here are a few ways you can spot a bad cheque: 

  • Make sure the cheque is properly dated and completed.
  • Don't accept cheques showing any signs of alteration.
  • Don't accept post-dated cheques and never agree to hold a cheque until a future date.
  • Don't accept a cheque made out to the buyer and then signed over to you.
  • Don't accept cheques for an amount greater than the purchase price.
  • Keep in mind that legitimate business cheques can sometimes be altered and used as a payment. Before accepting a business cheque, ask yourself if it makes sense that a cheque be drawn on a business account or that of a large corporation.
  • Don't accept counter cheques (cheques with no preprinted information such as name, address, or account number). 

Most cheques, money orders and bank drafts issued by Canadian banks have security features that you should always look for when accepting payment. With cheques, details of these security features are usually printed on the back of the cheque and can include things such as watermarks and intricate designs that will disappear if the cheque is scanned or photocopied. The same is usually true with money orders issued by Canadian banks. 

Lastly, it’s important to remember that you will be held responsible for any cheque you try to cash and for the funds involved if the cheque bounces. As such it is recommended that you err on the side of caution and have the bank verify the funds before you use any of the cash. Cheques can often take a week or two to clear the issuing bank so be careful to verify this before taking the money out. A cheque may be released by your bank but not clear the issuing bank right away so make sure to ask if you aren’t sure. Being upfront about the possibility that the cheque might bounce will also lessen the risk of the bank or police thinking you are involved. 

If you are ever unsure about a situation you are also always welcome to reach out to our customer support team for advice.

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