Western Union Offers Fraud Prevention Tips

Date: Thursday, September 30, 2004

Everyday millions of consumers rely on money transfer services to send money to loved ones near and far. Western Union takes the issue of consumer fraud very seriously and is working to educate consumers about the various types of consumer fraud. In an attempt to create a greater awareness of the many scams that take advantage of unsuspecting individuals, Western Union offers tips that are designed to prevent consumers from falling victim to fraud.

Be cautious if:

An unsolicited letter or email is received that offers an unrealistic or difficult-to-find item.

A consumer puts in the winning bid in an on-line auction and the seller will only accept a money transfer as a payment.

A telephone call is received advising that a consumer has won a lottery or prize, but in order to collect they are required to prepay fees, taxes or shipping.

An individual receives a call, supposedly in response to an ad that they had placed, that the caller has found a lost pet or jewelry and asks the individual to send money for a reward or for shipping.

A check is received that is substantially more than the merchandise sold and the seller is asked to wire transfer the difference back to the purchaser.

A low-cost loan, regardless of the individual's credit rating, is offered on the condition that fees or first few loan payments are prepaid via money transfer.

The caller instructs the consumer on how to respond to questions asked by Western Union.

Consumers need to remember that Western Union provides a money transfer service. It is not an escrow service and is not responsible for the quality or non-receipt of any goods or services. The "test question" feature is designed for emergency situations where they payee will not have proper identification. It should never be used as additional security to time or delay payment of a transaction. Consumers are also warned that if 'an offer is too good to be true', it probably is.

Western Union warns consumers to always know whom they are sending money to or purchasing merchandise from. Their advice is to contact the State Attorney General's Office of Consumer Affairs if they are uncertain or suspicious of a telephone, mail or email solicitation.

Lottery fraud has become much more common in recent years. On lottery fraud, it is recommended that consumers: should always use caution when doing business with a stranger; never send money via a money transfer service to someone they don't know or whose identity they cannot verify; remember that legitimate organizations will not demand money before awarding lottery or other prizes; and to buy themselves time by telling the people requesting money that they need to talk to family members, local police or an attorney before deciding to send money for lottery prizes.

For additional information on consumer fraud, you might try the National Consumer's League. Their website at www.nclnet.org offers a wealth of information on a number of scams. Consumers can also call Western Union's Fraud Department at (800) 325-6000 or check the website at westernunion.com.

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