A money order is a guaranteed payment method for sending funds, most often, safely. But despite all of their safety measures, there are still some tips you should keep in mind when sending and receiving a money order to make your transactions as safe and secure as possible.
Safety is a concern at the front of everyone’s minds right now. The last thing we want is to add to this by worrying about the safety of our money!
Are Money Orders Safe?
Money orders have a lot of measures in place to make them safer than using checks and credit cards. They are essentially a piece of paper, just like cash. You prepay for a money order using cash or a debit card at select providers, like CFSC. Because you’re prepaying, you never have to worry about the money being unavailable when the money order is cashed. And since they aren’t tied to a bank account or a credit card, your account numbers aren’t at risk of being exposed and compromised.
Money orders have physical characteristics that are used as security measures, such as watermarks, that can be verified. This helps to protect against fraud and forgery.
But they can still carry some risk. Avoid these potential risks with our pro money order safety and security tips.
Money Order Safety and Security Tips
The following tips should be used as a guideline anytime you want to send – or you receive – a money order.
Fill Out Your Money Order Right Away After Purchasing
If you leave a money order blank, it’s basically the same as carrying cash. If you lose it, anyone can fill it out and try to use it themselves. So, to avoid this, fill out as much information as possible as soon as you purchase it. Money orders look a little different depending on where you purchase them from, but generally, they will include:
- Recipient’s name (who you are paying to)
- Your full name (this line may say “From”, “Purchaser”, “Sender”, or “Remitter”)
- Your address
- Your signature (typically this is labeled, “Purchaser, Signer for Drawer”, “Purchaser’s Signature”, or “Signature”
Keep Your Money Order Receipt & Check Its Status
Typically, when you purchase a money order, you will also get a receipt or stub for proof of payment. This receipt has a number on it that can be used to check the payment status and see whether it’s been cashed or not. If it hasn’t been cashed, you may be able to stop payment and request a refund or replacement.
Try to Avoid Exchanging Money Orders with Strangers – They May Be Scamming You!
Unfortunately, there are several ways scammers try to use money orders to rip people off. Your safest bet is to avoid exchanging money orders with someone you don’t know. If possible, consider other methods of sending/receiving money.
If you have to use a money order and you don’t know the person you are exchanging with, watch out for these red flags:
- A request to send money back that was paid to you with a money order
- You receive a money order you weren’t expecting or an offer for goods in exchange for a money order
- Someone asks you to send a money order internationally
- You receive requests with poor spelling and grammar mistakes
- Someone refuses to accept any other method of payment (wire transfers, electronic deposits, etc.)
- An offer that sounds too good to be true
Hand-Off Money Orders In-Person or Through the USPS
The best way to send a money order is in person, but you can also safely send it by dropping it off at your local post office. Just don’t leave it in your mailbox for the postal worker to pickup themselves. You can even purchase insurance for your money order when sending through the post office for an added layer of security.
Verify A Received Money Order for Legitimacy Before Cashing or Depositing
The physical characteristics that are printed on money orders to help prevent fraud vary based on the money order issuer. You can call the issuer to ask them to verify the money order for legitimacy. If they or you can’t be 100% certain, you may want to delay spending that money for weeks, or even months to make sure it isn’t a bad money order.
Report Suspected Money Order Fraud or Lost or Stolen Money Orders Immediately
If you suspect you’ve been given a fraudulent money order, contact the issue directly to report it. If you want to do more, you can also report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who may attempt to take action against the scammers.
If you’ve lost your money order or believe it’s been stolen, contact the issuer right away. If the money order hasn’t been cashed, you may be able to pursue a refund and put a stop payment on it. If it has been cashed and you kept the receipt, it’s possible you may be able to see who endorsed it. You can then consider pursuing it further though legal action.
Now, while this list can make money orders sound more dangerous than you thought, don’t be fooled! They are still considered one of the safest ways of sending and receiving money.
In general, they still have way more security measures in place to make them safer than using checks or credit cards. The bottom line is that even if you do have problems with your money order, you will only be compromising the amount you paid for it – not your entire checking account or credit card limit!
With all of their features to protect against fraud and by following the tips above, you can use money orders to reliably send and receive money.