How to Verify if a U.S. Postal Money Order Is Real

People use money orders for a variety of reasons. Money orders provide a safe means of sending money through the mail to pay bills. They are a convenient alternative for individuals who do not have a checking account or credit card and need to pay with an instrument other than cash. U.S. Postal money orders provide consumers with branded money orders that include a variety of security features that ensure their authenticity.

Check the watermark. All U.S. Postal money orders have a watermark image of Benjamin Franklin embedded in the paper. Hold the money order up to the light. Franklin's image will appear on the left-hand side of the money order and will run from the top of the money order to the bottom. If Franklin's image does not appear, the money order is not authentic.

Check the multicolored thread. All U.S. Postal money orders have a multicolored thread located to the right of the Franklin watermark, running vertically. The thread weaves in and out of the paper, making it appear to be broken when viewed normally. Hold the money order up to the light and the thread should appear continuous. The capital letters USPS are repeated frontwards and backwards throughout the thread. If this thread is missing or does not contain the letters, the money order is not authentic.

Check the dollar amount. All U.S. Postal money orders are purchased for exact amounts. The amount will be written in two locations, and the amounts must match. Any discoloration around the printed dollar amount may indicate the amount has been altered, and you should verify further before accepting the money order. Domestic U.S. Postal service money orders do not exceed $1,000, so U.S. Postal money orders for more than $1,000 are not authentic.

Contact the U.S. Post Office Money Order Verification System at 1-866-459-7822 to verify the authenticity of any U.S. Postal money order. Report suspected fraudulent U.S. Postal money orders to U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455.


  • Many businesses have specific rules regarding the types of payments they will accept. If you work for a business that accepts money orders, be sure to abide by all company rules.