Money Order Security Features

The Post Office Department began issuing money orders in 1863, as a secure alternative to mailing cash. Criminals see money orders as tempting targets. They have tried stealing blank money orders from post offices, altering information, and creating counterfeits.

A printed image of Benjamin Franklin is visible on this counterfeit money order where only a watermark of the image should appear when held up to a light.
The printed image of Benjamin Franklin is visible on this counterfeit money order where only a watermark of the image should appear when held up to a light..
The printed image of Benjamin Franklin is visible on this counterfeit money order where only a watermark of the image should appear when held up to a light.

The U.S. Postal Service sells more than $150 million worth of money orders annually. Inspectors and forensic experts at the National Forensic Laboratory are constantly working with the Postal Service to improve security features for postal money orders. These features make counterfeits easier to spot and harder to create. Legitimate postal money orders have a woven security thread printed with the letters “USPS.” They also feature a watermark of Benjamin Franklin’s portrait that is only visible when the paper is held up to the light. Typically the counterfeits are printed with less intricate detail and lack the fine features of authentic money orders.

Postal nspectors also work to prevent counterfeit postal money orders from entering the country. In 2012, Inspectors seized 102,000 counterfeit money orders with a face value of nearly $98 million mailed to the U.S. from criminals overseas.