Merchants sometimes favor money orders over checks since vendors know money orders are paid for up-front, before even being given to a merchant. A check is only a promise to pay, similar to an IOU, and the payee has to present it to the bank and hope the check is valid. The guaranteed payment that a money order represents is a problem in situations where the money order could go missing. If it's lost, the money that paid for it is lost, too, but there still may be hope to recover the funds.
Prevention and Prudence
To protect a money order from being cashed by someone other than the person it's intended for, fill out the money order with the name of your payee as soon as you buy it. Also keep your receipt, which is a tear-away stub attached to the money order.
What to Expect
Each of the money order makers will replace your money order if it’s uncashed. If it has been cashed, they’ll send you a photocopy showing who signed to get the money so you can prove to your payee that you have, indeed, made your money order payment. If the money order was unlawfully cashed, you’ll have to contact the customer service department of the money order company to report it, and you may have to contact the police.
MoneyGram Money Orders
To request a MoneyGram money order replacement, you must mail a claim card form to the MoneyGram International address listed on the form and include the $18 fee. Send a copy of your money order receipt. If you don’t have it, you can still try to get a replacement as long as you have the money order number. The form is available online. The process will take about a month.
Western Union Money Orders
Western Union charges $15 to replace lost money orders, $30 without the receipt. With the receipt, fill out a money order customer request form and mail it to the address on the form, including the fee and the original receipt. Make a copy of the request and receipt for your records. If you don't have the receipt, fill out a money order research request form, which asks for details such as amount and place of purchase. Send it to the listed address, including the fee. It takes about 30 days.
USPS Money Orders
Start the process of replacing a lost U.S. Postal Service money order by filling out and submitting form PS Form 6401 at the post office. You’ll need to show identification and receipt. You’ll be charged a $5.95 processing fee. You’ll receive a letter from the USPS once they’ve investigated. You’ll receive a copy of a cashed money order. If it’s uncashed, you can walk into a post office 60 days from the date you first submitted the form at the post office for a new blank money order.