American cheques take 12 years to clear

I got another payment from one of my affiliate providers the other day. Something that always puts a smile on my face knowing that that particular website hasn't been touched for 12 months yet still manages to make a sale every so often. The cheque arrived in my New Zealand mailbox all the way from the USA only a few days after getting the email notification of the payment.

The cheque arrived in US dollars, so I have to actually go into the bank for these and sign something to be able to make the deposit.

Despite having done this lots of times, this time the bank teller took a moment to explain what I'm actually signing when I deposit a US cheque into a New Zealand bank account.

Get this...

She explained that the US bank has full recourse over the funds for 12 years. This means that at any time in the next 12 years, the US bank has the ability to reverse the payment and there isn't much my bank can do about it.

Wow.

It's not like there is a choice, or I can negotiate a better with my bank, so I deposited my cheque anyway. But I'm pretty sure I'd be in some trouble if every affiliate dollar I ever earned suddenly got reversed without any warning in 12 years time.
In New Zealand, I understand it's normal for this period to be 6 months instead of 12 years. That is, after 6 months, the money is legally yours, giving some finality to the whole process.

Why?

I'm guessing this is prevention against fraud, stolen cheques etc, but who knows. Really, I don't know much about the companies that I'm an affiliate for. They could be mafia-run squads of thugs who run an affiliate scheme as a way of funding dodgy activities - and who happen to have a professional looking website for signing up affiliates.

Luckily, a good portion of my online income is paid directly into my bank account or via Paypal. I have no idea what the recourse period is for Paypal, but maybe it's time to bone uip on the terms & conditions again.
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