Is it legal to buy something then stop payment because you don’t want it?

UPDATED: Aug 4, 2011

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Is it legal to buy something then stop payment because you don’t want it?

I recently found some coins that I knew nothing about so I took them to a antique outlet to have them tell me about them. The lady pull out her magnifying glass and spent 20 minutes looking over them and looking in a coin book. She then asked if I was willing to sell them. I told her yes I had no use for them. She then offered me $1000 and I excepted it. She wrote me a check and that was the end of it. The check later was stopped as I went to cash it. I called her and she said they looked at them more and they are fake. I didn’t know that’s why I went to them, not my problem.

Asked on August 4, 2011 North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Can you stop payment because you change your mind? No, not unless the agreement of sale specifically gave the buyer the right to get a refund, terminate the transaction, etc.

However, it's a different story if what you thought you were buying turns out to not be what you were in fact getting. If the agreement of sale was that you would be paid $1,000 for, say, 6 colonial gold dollars (I'm not a coin collector; I'm just making this up), but it instead turns out that the coins are 6 Monopoly Coloinial Edition Play Money (to use a ridiculous example), the buyer may cancel the contract, since she is not getting what she contracted to receive, and get her money back--or stop payment.

Of course, in that case, she would need to return the coins to you--she can't keep the coins without paying. And if you then have them appraised and find out that the coins are genuine, you could sue her to force her to go ahead with the sale.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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