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Online sellers warned on UK cheque clearance changes

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Online retailers and eBay sellers are advised to keep abreast of new cheque clearance rules that come into force in the UK on 1 December, or risk a heightened threat of becoming victims of fraud.

The new 2-4-6 cheque clearance rules mean that payment by cheque is not guaranteed until the seventh working day after a cheque has been presented to a bank for payment. This means that even if a payment looks to have cleared an account on day 4, the money is not safe until close of business on day six.

So anyone accepting payment for goods by cheque should hold off dispatching merchandise until seven working days after a cheque has been presented for payment, unless the payment has first been screened by a reputable fraud screening service or secured by a cheque guarantee card.

The new rules are of particular relevance to goods sold on auction sites and purchased by cheque.

Anti-fraud experts welcomed the changes as a clarification of the sometimes complicated cheque clearance process, even though it may lead to an increase in dispatch times where cheques are used as a payment method.

"The new 2-4-6 rules give a guarantee that on day seven a retailer or member of the public can dispatch goods with the certainty that the money is cleared funds in their bank account, and can not be clawed back unless the payee is a knowing party to fraud," said Andrew Goodwill, director of anti-fraud service 3rd Man. "I await the day when we receive this type of guarantee for credit card payments," he added. ®

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