How to Trace a Money Order

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A money order is a document that you can use to pay for something, similar to a prepaid check. If you send someone a money order and want to know whether it was cashed or deposited, you can often check with the organization that issued it. If a money order is stolen or lost, contact the organization that issued it immediately.

Understanding Money Orders

A money order functions similarly to a check, in that you can write it out to a given person or organization who can then cash it or deposit it for the face value. Unlike an ordinary check, a money order isn't backed by value in your bank account. Instead, it's prepaid when you purchase it.

You can buy money orders from many different businesses, including some convenience stores, grocery stores, check cashing stores and drugstores. Many are issued by money transmission companies such as Western Union and Moneygram. The United States Postal Service and other post offices around the world also issue and cash money orders. You usually must pay a fee on top of the face value when you buy a money order.

Hold on to the receipt you receive with your money order until it has been successfully cashed by the recipient. You will need this if it is lost, damaged or stolen or if there is any other issue with it.

How to Trace Money Orders

When a money order is cashed or deposited, the organization that issues it will have a record of that fact. If you want to find out the status of a money order, contact the organization that issued it. Many have forms on their websites where you can put in the serial number of the money order to find out its current status.

Lost or Stolen Money Orders

If a money order is lost, damaged or stolen, you can sometimes have it replaced or refunded. Contact the organization that issued it as soon as possible after you learn that there is a problem with the money order. Have the receipt from when you purchased the money order handy. If you have a police report or other documentation or evidence that a crime was committed, have that handy as well.

You may need to pay a fee to have the money order replaced or refunded, and if the money order has been stolen and cashed, you may have to wait for the issuing organization to investigate and verify that it wasn't cashed by the rightful recipient.

If you urgently must get money to someone and a money order is lost or stolen, you may need to purchase another money order or find some other way to send the money.

Cashing Money Orders

If you receive a money order, you can usually deposit it in a bank account if you have one, treating it like a check, or bring it to an office or affiliated business of the organization that issued it to cash it in. If you are depositing it into a bank account, contact your bank to see if you need to bring it to a branch or if you can deposit it into an ATM or scan it and deposit it with a mobile banking app.

Beware of Counterfeits

Counterfeit money orders do exist, so if you receive a money order and you're not sure if it's legitimate, contact the organization that issued it. Don't exchange anything of value for a money order from an untrusted source until you're able to confirm it's valid and real.

Scammers will sometimes try to buy or order valuable goods using fake money orders. Be wary of anyone who wants you to send or give goods or services in exchange for a money order before you have time to verify or cash it.

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