Money orders are a much more secure way to send payment than cash, but things can go wrong. Your money order might get lost in the mail or be stolen and if that happens, it’s important to act fast to make sure you get your money back.
Every issuer will have different rules on cancelling a money order but make sure you contact whoever you got it from as soon as you think there’s a problem.
How to cancel a money order
If your money order gets lost in the mail or is stolen, there’s a risk that someone will try to cash it. So, it’s important to follow the right steps to be able to get your money back. There’s no guarantee you will get it back, and there may be fees to pay, but if you follow a few key steps, there’s a chance you can recover it.
Wherever you got your money order from, there’ll be paperwork to fill in to cancel it. Some places will need you to do that in person while others let you do it online. Try to save your receipt when you buy it as that makes it much easier for them to track your money order down. If you have the original money order, even better. If you don’t have a receipt, it might be easier to visit the store – don’t forget to take your ID with you.
There will be a fee for cancelling a money order so make sure you can pay it. You’ll need to decide whether you want a replacement money order or a refund.
If the money order has been cashed, you won’t be able to get a refund, but you can request the details of who cashed it and where, so you can take the details to the police. If they can locate the person who cashed it, you might be able to get your money back.
Fees for cancelling a money order
Everywhere will charge you for cancelling a money order, and some places might even charge you for checking whether your money order can be cancelled. Fees will vary – starting at around $7 and averaging out around $15, so if your money order is for a small amount, it might not be worth pursuing it.
But if the value of your money order is much higher than the fees, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. It’s good to remember that issuers’ fees will be significantly higher if you don’t have your receipt or can’t provide complete details of your money order (some can charge up to $30 to process such a request), so make sure you always keep a record when you buy one.
Think you may have waited too long to cancel? As with any transaction, every provider will have different rules on how long you have to cancel a money order, so make sure you check this up front, or when you first ask about cancelling your money order. They may also have a sliding scale of fees for cancelling the money order. The longer you wait, the more they’re likely to charge.
Protect yourself from money order fraud
Any financial transaction is so much easier to challenge if you have all the paperwork in place. So, make sure you pick up your receipt when you buy your money order and keep it somewhere safe in case you need it again.
If you’re sending money to someone you don’t know – for an online purchase for example – make sure you keep their details and any correspondence too. The more information you have, the easier it’ll be to straighten things out. Find out more about reducing your risk of money order fraud.
What if the money order has been cashed?
If the money order has already been cashed, you should be able to get a photocopy of the transaction showing who cashed it and where. If fraud has been committed, you can use this as evidence to take to your local law enforcement agency.
Can I cancel a money order if I lost my receipt?
Yes, but it’s likely to be more complicated and cost you more. Even a photo of the money order could help. Most issuers will charge more to process your request without a receipt (sometimes double) and there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to track it down without all the details.
How long will it take to get my money back?
Once you submit your paperwork, it’ll take the issuer a while to research your case and get back to you with an answer. This can be anything from 30 to 60 days. It may be sooner, if your case is straightforward and you have all the details they need but be prepared for a bit of a wait.
Don’t fall victim to money order scams
There’s more to watch out for with money orders than them getting lost or stolen. Scammers operate a number of money order scams – here are a few to watch out for:
- Bogus buyer – You sell something online and the buyer sends a money order as payment. You’ve already sent the item before you realize the money order is no good.
- Overpayment scam – You sell an item online and the buyer sends you a money order for more than the agreed price. They request a transfer for the difference, which you do, only to then find their original money order is no good.
- Overseas scams – You receive a request from someone abroad who doesn’t have a bank account to make a deposit on their behalf. This is often linked to money laundering so if you agree to help out, you’ll be committing fraud.
Tips to prevent money order scams
Most money order scams can be avoided with a little knowledge and a lot of common sense. Most money order scams rely on trust – usually for someone you don’t know – so it’s best to be cautious when sending or receiving money from a stranger.
You can protect yourself with these simple steps:
- Only send goods when payment has cleared – If you’re selling online, make it clear to buyers that their item will only be mailed once a money order has cleared.
- Check the person out first – These days it’s pretty easy to find a person or business online. If you’re suspicious, Google them, check them out on social media, or even call the number on their email. If you’re still not sure, don’t do it!
- Look for signs of forgery – Some scammers will forge money orders or tamper with them, so if you receive one, check a few simple points to see if it’s legit. If you’re still not sure, speak to someone like Money Services in the Kroger Family of Stores or a credit union.
- Always keep receipts – Whether you’re sending or receiving a money order, keeping receipts helps you track and deal with any issues when they happen.
Money orders are incredibly useful and make it easier to budget. But it’s important to use them correctly and carefully. Keep receipts, make sure people you’re receiving them from and sending them to are trustworthy and, if in doubt, protect yourself and your money.