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Lost Money Order? How to Claim Your Cash

Banking, Banking Basics
Lost Money Order? How to Claim Your Cash

Your money order was stolen. Or maybe you misplaced it. All you know is that you that had that little slip of paper before, and now it’s gone. But whether you received the money order or bought it to pay someone else, losing one doesn’t always mean saying goodbye to your funds.

» MORE: Money orders: What you need to know

Here’s how to cancel and replace a money order or get a refund.

How to cancel a money order

You can cancel a money order that hasn’t been cashed. (If it has been cashed, you still have an option; more on that below.)

Step 1:  Contact the issuer, who will ask you to start the cancellation process by completing a request form.

Step 2: Provide details such as the location where the money order was purchased, the date on which it was purchased and the purchase amount, as well as its tracking number. You’ll find this information on the money order receipt, which the buyer gets at the time of purchase. If you don’t have the receipt, fill in as much information as you can.

You might also be asked for the name on the “payee” line, if any, and a brief description of how the money order was lost.

Step 3: Attach a copy of the receipt, if you have it.

Step 4: Submit the cancellation request form and pay a fee. Depending on the provider, you don’t have to return the form to the same location, or even in person. Some issuers, including Western Union, let you email, fax or mail the request.

Fees

Here’s what some of the larger money-order issuers charge for a cancellation:

  • U.S. Postal Service:  $5.95
  • Wal-Mart: $18, via the retailer’s money-order processor, MoneyGram
  • Western Union: $15 if you have your receipt, $30 if you don’t

Once the issuer accepts payment, it will verify your information and research whether the money order was cashed. If all goes well, the issuer will cancel the old money order and send a new one. The entire process can take about 30 days if you provide a receipt. If not, it can take up to eight weeks.

Money order refunds

Instead of receiving a new money order, you can request your money back, usually on the same form. The fees and time to process are generally the same as if you canceled.

What if the money order was cashed?

If the money order has already been cashed, you probably won’t get your cash back or a replacement money order. But you might still be able to collect.

The provider might give you a photocopy of the cashed money order. If you think it was cashed fraudulently, alert your local law enforcement. The copy could help authorities catch the criminal and make sure the money is returned to you.

To help protect yourself against fraud, write a name in the “payee” field as soon as you buy the money order and give one only to people or businesses you trust.

If you receive a money order, cash it or deposit it in a checking or savings account before you have a chance to lose it. But if your money order does disappear, follow these steps for a decent shot at reclaiming your cash.

Margarette Burnette is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: mburnette@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @margarette.