Is it legal to cash a payroll check from a company that i do not work for?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it legal to cash a payroll check from a company that i do not work for?

I applied for a position at a company and never accepted a position with them. I
have never put in any work hours for them at all. They have sent me paychecks for
20-25 hours of work each week for the last 3 weeks. When i received the first
check i called that companies payroll department and told them it was an error.
They didn’t resolve the issue and told me they would get back to me. It has been
2 weeks since then and have received 2 more checks since. It is a major company
not a scam.

Asked on September 25, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Eventually, they almost certainly will figure it out. When they do, they will ask for their money back. When they do that, if you don't repay it, they can--and likely will--sue you for the money. Don't cash or deposit the checks: you don't have a right in the law to money sent you by mistake, and if you cash or deposit then can't repay on demand (e.g. you spend it), you will face legal liability.

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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