Money orders are deemed as good as cash by banks and retailers across the United States. For the payee, they are considered safer than personal checks. Because they are paid for in advance, they cannot bounce. For the same reason, for the money order purchaser, money orders can seem risky. If they are lost or stolen, your money is gone. However, money order issuers can trace the documents and possibly provide refunds.
Postal Money Order
Keep your stub when you write the money order. The stub provides the serial number of the money order.
Fill out U.S. Postal Service Form 6401. You can download the form or request it from your local post office. Data required for the money order inquiry form includes the money order serial number, the amount and the purchaser's name, address and phone number. A processing fee has to be submitted with the form to the address indicated.
Look for a response by mail. It may take a few weeks or longer to arrive. According to USPS.com, the post office promises only to respond as soon as it has "completed a payment inquiry." If a refund is requested, it will be issued "no sooner than 60 days from the money order issue date." As of this writing, you can request the status of the inquiry by phoning 1-866-974-2733.
Western Union Money Order
Retain the receipt you receive upon filling out the money order.
Fill out the tracing/refund request. It is located on the back of the money order receipt.
Mail the form, along with $15 as a processing fee, to the address printed on the form.
Look out for a response within about eight weeks. If Western Union finds that the money order was truly lost, it will send you a refund. If the money order cleared, you will receive a copy of that document.
- If you buy your money order from a bank, hold onto the receipt and provide the money order number to the bank for tracking purposes. The bank may be able to cancel the money order and give you a refund if it has not been cashed.
- If you do not have the receipt, Western Union can still trace the money order. Download the money order research request form from the Western Union website. Alternatively, you can phone Western Union customer service and request the form by fax or mail. Fill out the form and mail it to the address indicated, along with a $30 fee. Include documents to help identify the purchase. The receipt from the point of purchase, or copies of other money orders you may have bought on the same date, can be helpful.
- Retain copies of the applicable forms and supporting documentation for your records.
- If you cannot provide proof that you were the person who purchased the original money order, and you are seeking a refund, Western Union may not be able to comply.
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.