USPS Money Order Verification

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March 17, 2024

If you’ve sent funds before, you know that each fund transfer method has its downside.

Coins can tear thin envelopes, paper currency may be stolen in the mail, and personal checks offer no assurance to the payee.

One of the most secure payment alternatives is a money order. You can track and cancel it, and it is addressed to the specific recipient. 

Suppose you want to send funds via USPS (United States Postal Service) money orders. In that case, it will help to understand how money order works, including authenticating money orders. 

You might also wonder whether you can replace stolen, lost, or damaged money orders.

FindPostOffice.org can give you essential details about the post office in the U.S., including their schedules and service offerings.

This article explains how to use USPS money orders, including how to differentiate legitimate money orders from fake ones. 

Learn more about various USPS money orders.

Verifying U.S. Postal Service Money Orders

This USPS option is a convenient way to exchange funds if you want a non-electronic solution but do not have access to paper checks from a bank account. 

Despite the convenience this payment method offers, you must still verify the authenticity of a money order.

Verifying if a U.S. Postal Money Order Is Real: How Can I Verify a USPS Money Order?

U.S. Postal Service local and international money orders include security features to safeguard your investment. 

Remember to check for these features before you accept a money order or cash one:

  • A repeating watermark of Benjamin Franklin will appear on the left and run from top to bottom when you hold the money order to the light.
  • The money order should not show discoloration around the dollar amounts. The color change could mean someone adjusted the stated value.
  • To the right of the watermark, you should see a vertical, multicolored thread weaving in and out of the paper.

The thread will appear continuous when you hold the watermark to the light. It will show alternating horizontal light and dark bars behind it.

Moreover, the letters “USPS” repeat forward and backward throughout the thread.

Note: Domestic USPS money orders may be at most $1,000. Meanwhile, the maximum amount for an international USPS money order is $700.

Receiving Money Orders: How Do You Spot a Fake?

As you know, ensuring the validity of money orders before accepting them is crucial to protecting your transactions. Below are several things to do to spot a counterfeit money order.

Examine the Paper

Actual USPS money orders feature distinctive marks and designs to prevent fraud. 

As mentioned, you should see the following when you hold the money order up to the light:

  • Benjamin Franklin watermarks on the paper’s left side repeating top to bottom
  • A vertical, multicolored strand with the letters “USPS” weaving in and out of the article on the right of the Franklin watermark 

Check the Dollar Amounts

You might also want to verify whether someone tampered with the money order’s dollar amounts. 

Here are three things to remember when verifying dollar amounts:

  • Say the color of the dollar amount appears faded. In that case, someone may have erased the stated amount, suggesting fraud.
  • The dollar amount should be imprinted twice.
  • Check if the dollar value is too high:
    • Domestic money orders have a maximum amount of $1,000.
    • International money orders cannot exceed $700 ($500 for Guyana or El Salvador)

Do You Suspect a Fake?

To verify a postal money order, contact the Money Order Verification System at 1-866-459-7822. 

Say you suspect fraud. In that case, you can call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by dialing 1-877-876-2455.

Cashing a Money Order at the Post Office

Here are two things to remember when cashing money orders at the post office:

  • Take a primary photo ID (identification) with the money order to any post office site.
  • Do not sign the money order in advance. Sign the money order at the postal counter before a retail associate.

How to Cash Domestic Money Orders

These money orders never expire and do not accrue interest. You can only cash domestic money orders for the exact value of the order. 

You can buy domestic money orders from the following places:

  • Money order facilities for U.S. Armed Forces members
  • All post office branches and stations in the U.S. and its territories
  • Rural route carriers and approved highway contract route carriers

A customer can fill out Form 6387 (available from the carrier) and submit it along with the payment to the courier. 

Form 6378 is also known as the Rural Money Order Transaction Application. The carrier usually delivers the money order on the trip following your order. 

However, there might be some changes if you provide a pre-addressed envelope and pay postage and any required fees for mailing.

How Do You Check if a USPS Money Order Has Been Cashed?

Aside from verifying the validity of a money order, checking the status of a money order is also crucial to detecting fraud. 

Below are four ways to determine if a USPS money order has been cashed.

Make an Inquiry in Person

Visit a nearby post office and request PS Form 6401 (Money Order Inquiry form). This form requires your complete name, contact information, money order serial number and amount, and signature.

USPS will send you a refund if the money order has yet to be cashed and a copy of the cashed money order if it has.

Use the Online Verification System

 You can go to the “Money Order Inquiry System” page on the USPS website (USPS.com). Click “6401 Inquiry” and input the money order’s serial number in the space provided.

Note: Generally, domestic money orders contain 11 digits, and international money orders are 10 digits long. 

After providing the serial number, click the “Go” button. Your money order’s status will show on the next screen, including whether the money order has been cashed.

Use the Phone Inquiry System

Alternatively, contact USPS at (866) 974-2733 to check the payment information. 

The automated system will ask whether you are an employee or a customer. Say “Customer.”

The system will then ask what kind of help you need. Choose “Money Order Inquiry” and provide the money order’s serial number using your phone’s keypad.

You can retrieve the serial number from the purchase receipt if you do not have the money order.

Send an Email Request

You can also check payment status through email. Send an inquiry to USPS by going to the carrier’s homepage.

Choose the “Support” link at the top of the page. Next, click “Contact Us” and then “Email Us.”

When sending the email, include your name, address, phone number, money order serial number, and the order’s amount. Inquire about the money order’s payment status. 

Note

Suppose you think that the money order you received is fraudulent. In that case, discuss your concerns with the issuer. They can verify funds on the payment or tell you if the money order is fake.

Money Orders: The Basics

Simply put, a money order is a document resembling the U.S. currency, which you can purchase in varying amounts. The following sections provide detailed information regarding money orders.

What Is a USPS Money Order?

As mentioned, in the U.S., money orders are payment orders that resemble a cashier’s check. 

You can obtain money orders in different places, but banks and USPS commonly issue these documents.

Since money orders require you to deposit funds equal to the value of the order, many consider this option more secure than personal checks.

Money Order Fees

The costs of money orders vary depending on the amount and whether you plan to send them domestically or internationally. 

Sending it to APO (Air Force or Army Post Office), FPO (Fleet Post Office), or DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) locations may also affect the money orders’ pricing. 

Money Orders Between USPS and Japan Post

In 2020, USPS announced the termination of its international postal money order service exchanges with Japan Post.

This change does not affect U.S. Postal Service money orders. The U.S. Embassy or Consulates in Japan will still accept USPS money orders. 

U.S. Postal Service money orders can still be purchased on U.S. military installations in Japan by authorized representatives or family members or at any post office in the U.S.

Making Your Request

The issuer usually sends a copy of the approved money order 30 days after you submit your tracking request. The scanned document may show who cashed or deposited the money order and when.

On the other hand, the issuer may notify you that the money order has yet to be cashed.

If the money order is still pending, you may request to cancel it and get a refund. The exact procedure varies from issuer to issuer.

Gather Needed Information

You will receive a receipt containing the order details when you buy a money order. Use the order number and value to track the transaction.

You can use the issuer’s website to check the money order’s status. Just enter the serial number and issue amount in the correct field.

For USPS money orders, you might need the post office number.

Note

Remember to take a photo or make a copy of your money order so you can have the details handy if you need to track it.

Contact the Recipient

If possible, contact the money order’s recipient. Sometimes, individuals and businesses do not process money orders immediately. 

Getting information directly from the payee may be more convenient than filling out forms.

Consider Waiting

Wait at least two weeks after you send a payment before canceling a money order. Most letters arrive at their final destination within a few days, but sometimes, payments are delayed. 

During weekends and holidays, that process can take even longer.

Moreover, your recipient may have been busy or on vacation when the payment was delivered. That said, if anything appears suspicious, it will help to get to the bottom of it quickly.

How to Fill Out a USPS Money Order

Here’s a sample step to filling out a USPS Money Order:

  1. Fill in the “Pay to the order of” field with the recipient’s name or business using black or blue ink.
  2. Complete the “From” field by providing your full legal name.
  3. Sign the money order on the front with your complete signature. Note: Leave the back line blank for the recipient to fill out.
  4. Provide the recipient’s address below the “Pay to” line and your current address beneath the “From” line.
  5. Use the “Memo” line to note the purpose of your payment.
  6. Keep the receipt containing the tracking number safe for future reference.

The clerk will print the document with the amount you paid on the front of the money order after you purchased it.

How to Send Domestic Money Orders

Follow these steps to send domestic money orders:

  1. Determine the money order amount. You can purchase up to $1,000 in a single order anywhere in the U.S.
  2. Go to any post office location.
  3. Take cash, a traveler’s check, or a debit card. You cannot pay via credit card.
  4. Complete the money order at the counter and give it to the retail associate.
  5. Pay the money order’s dollar value plus the issuing fee.
  6. Keep your receipt so you can monitor the money order.

Tracking Money Orders: How Money Order Tracking Works

There are different ways to track the status of a money order, depending on your issuer and what information you need. The following sections discuss how to track money orders.

How to Track a USPS Money Order

Here’s how you track money orders issued by well-known money order providers:

  • USPS: Submit an online form and pay a minimal charge if your money order is lost or stolen. You can also go to your local post office. 
  • Western Union: Call 1-800-999-9660 or complete an online form and pay up to $15 administrative costs.
  • MoneyGram: Call MoneyGram’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-926-9400, complete the online form, or visit a nearby MoneyGram branch.

Check the Status of a Money Order

As mentioned, you can check the status of your USPS money order at any time by accessing the money orders application.

You will need the following details for the postal money order you want to check:

  • Serial number
  • Post office number
  • Dollar amount

USPS Introduces Online Money Order Status Tool

USPS customers can check the status of their money orders through a tracking interface on USPS’ website. This tool allows users to view the near-real-time status of their money orders, including whether they have been cashed.

Replacing Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Money Orders

Sometimes, unforeseen events result in the theft, loss, or damage of a money order. Addressing the issue as soon as possible is crucial.

The following sections suggest ways to replace lost, stolen, or damaged money orders.

Lost or Stolen Money Orders

You cannot stop payment on USPS money orders, but a stolen or lost order can be replaced. 

Here are three things to remember regarding money order replacements:

  • Money order theft or loss might take 30 days to confirm.
  • Investigating a money order’s stolen or lost status may take up to 60 days.
  • You must pay a $17.30 processing fee to reissue a stolen or lost money order.

Requesting a Refund

Follow these three steps to request a money order refund.

  1. Bring your money order receipt to a post office location.
  2. Ask for the assistance of the retail associate at the counter to initiate a money order inquiry.
  3. After initiating your inquiry, you can monitor the status of your money order and inquiry development using the money orders application.

USPS will issue you a replacement once it confirms your money order is lost or stolen.

Damaged Money Orders

USPS will replace defective or damaged money orders. You can take the damaged money order and your purchase receipt to a nearby post office to get a replacement.

Other Money Order Issuers

Western Union or MoneyGram are the primary issuers of money orders at convenience stores, grocery stores, and check cashing stores. 

Say you purchased your money order from an organization not discussed in this article, such as another bank or credit union. You might still be able to track your money order.

MoneyGram Money Orders

As mentioned, you can track your MoneyGram money order by dialing 1-800-926-9400 or submitting a MoneyGram online form for tracking money orders.

You must provide your money order number and its equivalent dollar amount. The system will then inform you whether the item has been cashed.

Note

Suppose you need to get your money order number. In that case, you may need to pay extra and fill out another form to gather the necessary information.

Western Union Money Orders

Western Union’s procedure is similar to MoneyGram’s. Before completing forms and paying fees, verify if the money order has been cashed by calling 1-800-999-9660.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How long is a money order good for?

The answer to this question depends on your issuer. That said, USPS money orders do not expire.

  1. Are USPS money orders guaranteed?

USPS does not guarantee a full refund on a stolen money order if the refund claim does include the customer’s receipt.

Meanwhile, USPS replaces a damaged or defective money order or one that is “spoiled” during customer completion or imprinting for free, provided the customer returns the negotiable portion of the USPS Money Order and the corresponding customer receipt. 

Note: There are no stop payments on USPS money orders.

References

  1. Security Features of U.S. Postal Service Money Orders
    https://about.usps.com/notices/not299/not299_002.htm
  2. Sending Money Orders
    https://www.usps.com/shop/money-orders.htm
  3. 509 Other Services
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/509.htm?_gl=1pbqiax_gcl_au*MTc3ODkzMTU4Ny4xNjk3NDYxNTI0
  4. Postal Money Orders – $1,000 Maximum
    https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2002/html/pb22077/f-r.html
  5. Contact Us
    https://www.usps.com/help/contact-us.htm
  6. Money Orders – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Money-Orders-The-Basics
  7. Postal Service to Terminate International Postal Money Order Service with Japan Post
    https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2020/pb22541/html/info_006.htm
  8. Message to U.S. Citizens: Japan Post Bank to Stop Issuing International Renewals by Mail
    https://jp.usembassy.gov/message-to-u-s-citizens-japan-post-bank-to-stop-issuing-international-renewals-by-mail
  9. On the money
    https://link.usps.com/2020/06/30/