July 2, 2008----Several Attorneys general, including Washington, Idaho and Montana AG’s, just announced a multi-state agreement with MoneyGram Payment Services intended to help prevent U.S. residents from becoming victims of wire transfer scams.
MoneyGram will pay $1.1 million to fund a national peer-counseling program to be overseen by the AARP Foundation. The company also agreed to print an attention-grabbing warning on its form used to send money and provide enhanced training to branch agents.
Attorneys general in 44 states and the District of Columbia reached the out-of-court agreement with MoneyGram on July 2, 2008, in response to concerns about the use of the company’s wire transfer services by scammers. The states reached a similar agreement in 2005 with Western Union.
ADVICE AND TIPS FROM
MONEYGRAM INTERNATIONAL’S WEB SITE:
Make sure the person or company you are sending money to (or who you are sending money on behalf of) is someone you know and trust. Please also keep the information relating to your transaction confidential. Once the money has been paid out to the person you name as the receiver, cancellation or refund is no longer possible. If you need to cancel or change a transaction, please call MoneyGram or contact the MoneyGram agent that sent the transaction for you.
MoneyGram offers an efficient and speedy way to send money throughout the world. Unfortunately, our services have been used by some fraud perpetrators, to fool or trick consumers with a variety of scams.
Be very suspicious if you receive the following:
• A check or money order sent to you, with instructions to cash the item at your bank, then send some of the funds to someone else through MoneyGram. If the check is counterfeit your bank will make you cover the loss. Be aware that counterfeit checks are very hard to identify.
• A telephone call telling you that you have won money or a prize and that you need to send money to pay for taxes, customs fees, etc.
• A response to your newspaper ad for a lost pet or lost personal items, as fraud perpetrators are known to use the classified ads to contact people and pretend they have found their lost item.
• A suggestion from a stranger to send money to a friend or relative as a show of “good faith” because legitimate business is not conducted this way. You will be told that, by sending the money in the name of a friend, they will not be able to collect the funds. That is not true. Con artists often use fake identification to pretend to be someone else.
• An email that appears to be from MoneyGram, no matter how real it looks. We are not an Internet escrow or shipment service and will NEVER send an email confirmation to inform a person that they have received a MoneyGram transfer for payment of an Internet purchase.
• Instructions to mislead MoneyGram are a clear warning sign that something might be wrong. Con artists will be familiar with MoneyGram’s efforts to prevent fraud. If someone tells you to not share the details of your transaction with MoneyGram, then you should not continue with the transaction.
Here are some ways you can protect yourself:
• Buying items on the Internet. Be very careful if you are sending money to pay for merchandise purchased online. Many Internet auction sites provide an assured payment system that offers greater protection for the buyer and seller.
• Using the MoneyGram® money transfer service. For the convenience of our customers, some transactions sent to a specific destination may be received in another country. Please do not assume your money transfer is safe because you specified a country for the transaction. Also, if a recipient has photo identification and knows pertinent information about the transaction and the sender, a reference number or the answer to a test question may not be required to pick up the transaction. Please be careful to whom you send money, keeping your transaction information confidential, and be suspicious of anyone who wants you to send money to them (or someone else) with a test question.
• It may be too good to be true. Research thoroughly before sending money in response to a newspaper or magazine ad for airline, concert or similar tickets. The same is true for offers of loans or credit cards where you are asked to send money for fees before signing any documents. Be suspicious of very cheap deals. MoneyGram cannot ensure that the goods or services you are paying for will be received.
Here are some resources available to you in the United States:
• Report fraud. To report fraud to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, visit www.ic3.gov/. This is a partnership between The FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. For a list of different types of fraud schemes or to report a fraud, you can also visit www.consumer.gov/sentinel.
• Call before you send money. If you are suspicious, contact the Better Business Bureau, AARP or your local Attorney General before sending any money.
• Canadian fraud. Many scams ask for money to be sent to Canada. For Canadian issues, call PhoneBusters toll-free at 888-495-8501 - this is a joint effort of U.S. and Canadian law enforcement to fight telemarketing fraud.