Money orders are often safe ways to send funds. They can be safer than checks because they are prepaid and don’t require a bank account. There are still some things you should be aware of though when sending or receiving a money order.
Avoid the risks with our top tips for keeping your money order safe – including what happens if a money order is lost or not cashed.
Completely fill out your money order
When completing your money order, it’s important to fill out as much information as you can to avoid it being altered. This includes:
- The person or business the money order is for
- Your full name
- Your current address
- Your signature
- What the money order is for
Keep your receipt safe
When you purchase a money order, you’ll receive a receipt or stub. This acts as proof of purchase if the money order is stolen or lost. It can also be used to track your money order status, either online or over the phone.
Send your money order via the post office
If you can’t hand a money order to the receiver directly, drop it off at your local post office. This increases the chance of your money order reaching its intended receiver, rather than leaving it in your mailbox.
The post office also offers the option of purchasing insurance for your money order, giving it an extra layer of protection and security.
Check the money order was cashed
One of the main benefits of a money order is you can pay by cash. However, this means it can be hard to known when (or if) the recipient has cashed it in.
When you purchase a money order from a trusted provider, such as a bank, post office or retailer like Money Services, you will receive a detachable stub or receipt. This usually includes a tracking code so you can check the status of your money order. Do this online, over the phone or by asking in store, to check if the intended recipient cashed the money order.
Don’t spend your money until it has fully cleared
If you deposit a money order through your bank, the money may appear in your account straightaway. However, it can take a few days or weeks for your bank to collect the money from the issuer. If this turns out to be a fake money order, they’ll deduct the amount from your account – which can cause problems if you’ve already spent it.
Be wary of money order scams
When you receive a money order from an unknown sender, whether it’s to purchase goods or place a deposit, be cautious that it could be a scam. Typically, this will involve sending a fake money order where they receive the goods before you can cash it in. Or, it can be sending a fake money order as a deposit and payment to then ask for the payment back, minus the deposit, after pulling out of a sale.
There are countless other ways a fraudster could try to scam you. Where possible, only accept money orders from a trusted sender. Additionally, verify the funds with the issuer and avoid spending the money until it has been cleared by your bank.
Report lost or stolen money orders straightaway
If you suspect a money order is lost or stolen, you will need to contact the service that issued it. Usually, this will involve filling out a form online or on the back of your money order receipt.
Should the money order have already been cashed, you may be able to use your receipt to see who endorsed it and when. If it was cashed by someone other than the receiver, the law may get involved to track down the thief. Additionally, this can help get your money back, especially if the provider didn’t properly verify the person who cashed your money order.
Let the receiver know if you need to refund your money order
Sometimes your situation might change, and you need to cancel and refund your money order. Get in touch with the receiver immediately when this is the case.
A money order can be refunded as long as it remains uncashed. However, this will often include a fee and can take a couple of months to process. It’s important to make sure the order isn’t cashed by the receiver in the meantime.
With these tips in mind, money orders can be a safe and secure way to send funds to your loved ones. With payments powered by Western Union, visit your nearest Money Services to purchase or cash a money order.