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Can I Verify Funds on a Money Order?

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Question: I sold something and was paid with a money order. I don’t know whether or not the money order is good. Is there any way to find out if the money order is legitimate?

Answer: Yes, you can verify funds on a money order just like you would with a check. Call the money order issuer and tell them you’d like to verify funds. They’ll ask for a few more details, and they can provide basic information. They can’t guarantee that you’ll get paid, but they can verify whether or not a money order matching yours was ever issued and whether or not it’s still out there.

You’ll never really know if the money order in your hand is good or not, but you can always poke around and see if anything smells fishy. By verifying funds, you’ll weed out most clumsy scammers. However, there’s always the chance that a scammer made multiple copies of a legitimate money order and the victims (including you) have not yet deposited or cashed them yet.

When you call the money order issuer (Western Union or the US Postal Service, for example) be sure to use a number that you find on your own. Search the web for a legitimate page showing the issuer’s contact information. Don’t just dial the number printed on the money order -- if it’s a fake the phone number probably goes to a scammer.

If you have any concerns, ask your bank for help. Take the money order in to deposit it, and tell the teller that you’re a little suspicious. They can explain the risks and help you verify funds.

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