Actually, this is completely wrong. Ask your bank sometime if they can tell you how long it takes a check to clear. The answer is YOUR bank clears it in 2 days for a local bank, 5 days for an outstate bank and overnight if it's something official (gov't, cashiers, etc). This process is actually Federal law.
Originally Posted by mactec54
HOWEVER, and this is the big scam no one will tell you about, it may take the ISSUING bank 4-6 weeks to confirm the funds are available and that the check is legitimate. Normally this is not a big deal, but if it's a fake, the whole transaction unravels EVEN IF YOUR BANK SAYS IT CLEARED. And you are responsible for the whole amount.
From the FTC itself:
"Under federal law, banks must make funds available to you from U.S. Treasury checks, official bank checks (cashierís checks, certified checks, and tellerís checks), and checks paid by government agencies at the opening of business the day after you deposit the check. For other checks, banks must similarly make the first $100 available the day after you deposit the check. Remaining funds must be made available on the second day after the deposit if payable by a local bank, and within five days if drawn on distant banks. However, just because funds are available on a check youíve deposited doesnít mean the check is good. Itís best not to rely on money from any type of check (cashier, business or personal check, or money order) unless you know and trust the person youíre dealing with or, better yet ó until the bank confirms that the check has cleared. Forgeries can take weeks to be discovered and untangled.
The bottom line is that until the bank confirms that the funds from the check have been deposited into your account, you are responsible for any funds you withdraw against that check." http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/cons...dit/cre40.shtm
Bottom line is that, even if the funds are cleared, they can still be withdrawn if the check is eventually found to be bogus, even if that is months later. And, BTW, notice the contradictions within the FTC's own description (cleared vs deposited vs funds available), that's what scammers exploit and most bank employees won't be able to tell you what state your deposit is actually in...
For really small amounts (under $2000), PayPal is a pretty good (if expensive - use this http://ppcalc.com/ to recover the fees) way to get foreign payments. If it's more than that, you can do a SWIFT transfer, which is a standard way of moving money internationally. For significant transactions, the standard way is Letters of Credit and escrow accounts, but that's only worth it over $100k.