Most money orders are easy to fill out, but like checks, errors and omissions can bring payment to a screeching halt.
First, do not use a pencil or water-based ink pens. Not only will the information fade and become illegible, the information can easily be changed on a lost or stolen money order. Banks and savings and loans prefer blue or black ink, but so long as the writing is permanent and able to be read, almost any color is accepted.
The writing must be legible. If the cashing institute cannot easily read the information, they can legally decline honoring the money order, so ensure legibility. If necessary, print the pay-to information in all capital letters to avoid confusion.
Fill In the Blanks
Unlike checks, money orders are issued with the numerical amount already completed; that’s included in the purchase process. Some money orders will even print out the written amount that correlates with the numeric entry. Ensure that the amount is written correctly. For example, a money order for $66.58 should note a written amount as, “Sixty-six and 58/100 dollars.” Note the proper hyphenation in “sixty-six” and the use of the fraction-the cents-over-100 pennies” portion of the entry. Always note the currency at the end.
The “Pay to the Order of” entry is above the written amount and to the left of the numeric amount. Ensure this line is printed or written clearly and is spelled correctly. Not all financial institutions or check cashing businesses accept misspelling adjustments when presented with money orders with incorrect or inexact information.
Usually, a memo line appears in the lower left corner of money orders. Identical in use to checks, note any payment-related note there:
- Account number. “Account 09850-123,” for example.
· Time period. “Rent for August 1999.”
· Purchased item. “Lg. walnut, 3-shelf bookcase”
· Any like entry that will prompt your memory and can prove payment.
The signature line lies in the lower right corner area. Never sign a money order until:
- The pay-to line is complete, and
· The money order is presented for payment or mailed.
Law enforcement and financial institutions join together in warning about forged money orders. Ensure the vendor is licensed to sell them and never buy from someone off the street or from a friend.
Never sign a money order until the very last possible moment to reduce the possibility of it being stolen or erroneously cashed if lost.
Keep the money order receipt! Unlike checks, the receipt is the only proof of payment possible and is crucial in tracing a lost or stolen money order.
Federal Deposit Insurance Company; FDIC Laws, Regulations Related Acts; “6500-Consumer Protection,” found at: http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/rules/6500-3215.html
US Treasure Department, Financial Action Task Force; “New Payment Methods,” October 13, 2006; found at: http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/pdf/new-payment-methods_102006.pdf
Bank of America, Customer Service Department; 1-800-432-1000; http://www.bankofamerica.com