If you were the victim of a scam between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, and paid the criminal via wire transfer with Western Union, you’re in luck. On Monday the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that victims have until February 12, 2018 to file a claim and get their money back.
“American consumers lost money while Western Union looked the other way,”
said FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen.“We’re pleased to start the process that will get that money back into consumers’ rightful hands.”
The refunds are a result of a joint investigation by the FTC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Western Union agreed to pay a $586 million settlement, and the DOJ is using that money to provide refunds to victims.
What types of scams are eligible for a refund:
Lottery or prize and promotion schemes
Emergency or grandparent scams
Advance-fee loan scams
Online dating or romance scams
How to file a claim:
Victims who previously informed Western Union that they were the victim of scam should receive a pre-filled claim form. If you did not receive a form, or did not previously inform Western Union of the scam, you can access the form online at https://kccsecure.com/westernunionremission/Claimant/UnKnownClaimForm.
Consumers who were victim to multiple scams can also file a different claim for each case. Once the claim is filed, the DOJ will will check with the Treasury Offset Program to ensure that victims do not owe money to the federal government. Refunds could be reduced if victims owe money.
Tips to avoid being scammed online or over the phone:
Do not rely on caller ID or company logos. Criminals have the capability of ‘spoofing’ a phone number of a well-known organization or business to try to trick consumers into sending them money, providing them with personal information, or both. Scam artists will also send letters and emails with variations of well-known companies and organizations. Do not believe everything you see; verify the sender before responding.
Verify the caller, or sender. Verify the caller or sender by writing down their name, name of the company, and address (if you received a letter via mail). If you’re on the phone, hang up. Find accurate contact information for the organization by contacting your local Better Business Bureau. Then contact the company with the provided information and verify the legitimacy of the solicitation.
Be wary of callers or solicitations that try to illicit an emotional response. Scam artists typically use tactics to scare, excite, or otherwise get an emotional response from the victim to lure them in. Try not to let your emotions outweigh your senses, and remember: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Never send money to people you do not know. Remember to never send money to people you don’t know, especially via wire transfer, prepaid debit card, or gift card.
Report scams when you encounter them. If you come across something you think may be a scam, report it at bbb.org/scamtracker or by contacting your local BBB.