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Steps to fill out a money order

1. Make sure the amount is correct

After you buy a money order (and note, there will be a fee), double-check the amount that's printed on it.

Is it the amount you requested and paid for? If not, you'll want to clear that up immediately with the person who sold you the money order.

2. Write in the recipient's name

On the "Pay to" line, fill in the name of the person or business you're paying. Be careful to avoid spelling or other errors, because it will be difficult to make changes.

Print in large letters and press hard so that the information is clear and so it would be difficult for a fraudster to change what you've written.

Write in the name of the recipient as soon as you have the money order; if you lose the money order or it's stolen, anyone can cash it if this line is empty.

There may also be a line to fill in the recipient's address.

3. Fill in your information

Your information goes on the purchaser fields. There will be a line for "Address." Instead of "Address," it might say "Sender" or "Remitter" — or it might just say "From."

Be sure to fill in your current address so the recipient knows where to contact you.

The money order may also contain a a field to enter your name. If it doesn't, you may want to try to squeeze it in, too.

4. Include an account number or a note

If you're using a money order to pay a bill, you'll write in your account number on the line that says "Payment For/Account No." or "Memo."

Or, if you're buying something, say from someone on Craigslist, use this line to write in a short note to remind the recipient what this payment is for ("Queen size bed frame" or "Black Panther comic No. 1.")/

5. Sign the money order

Sign the money order on the front, on the line for "Purchaser's Signature."

DO NOT sign the back of the money order. That's where the recipient signs the money order when cashing it or putting it in the bank.

Then, give the front of the money order a once-over to be sure you didn't make any mistakes or leave anything out.

6. Keep the receipt

Tear off the receipt portion of the money order and put it in a place that's safe and that you'll remember. It's your proof of payment.

The information on the receipt will allow you to track the money order through its provider if the recipient ever complains about not being paid.

More: What to do if you lost a money order


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Doug Whiteman Former Editor-in-Chief

Doug Whiteman was formerly the editor-in-chief of MoneyWise. He has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and CNBC.com and has been interviewed on Fox Business, CBS Radio and the syndicated TV show "First Business."

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