Fraud victims: Two weeks left to get your money back from Western Union
February 12 is the deadline to file a claim for a refund of money you may have lost in a money transfer scam.
The refunds are part of a settlement in which Western Union agreed to pay back $586 million for its role in aiding and abetting a variety of scams or fraudulent schemes – agents were knowingly involved in facilitating the scams.
Western Union was also ordered to better protect customers from scams in the future. Common examples of the wire fraud involved money sent via Western Union for fake products sold online, fake lottery or sweepstakes prizes, false emergencies from people posing as relatives or friends, fraudulent advance-fee loans and fake dating or romance profiles. In most cases, victims never received what they were promised.
Who’s eligible for a refund
Anyone who lost money in one or more apparent scams that involved Western Union wire transfers between January 1, 2004, and January 19, 2017, is eligible to file a claim to get their money back. Scam victims do not need to have reported the incident to authorities or Western Union. In some cases, you can file a claim for someone else.
How to file a claim
Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Western Union refunds page and click one of two claim buttons. If you didn’t receive a pre-filled claim form in the mail, you’ll need to provide:
- Name and address. A phone number and email address are optional.
- Transaction date and amount of money sent, not including transaction fees.
- Western Union Money Transfer Control Number and the location from which you sent the money, if known.
- Country where the money was sent.
- Documentation if you have any, like a copy of the send form or receipt.
- Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.
The Social Security number or ITIN is needed so the DOJ can ensure that recipients don’t owe money to the government. If they do, their refund will be reduced by the amount they owe.
When to expect a refund
Each claim will be verified by the Department of Justice, and depending on how many filers there are and how much money each person lost, the DOJ will split the $586 million pot accordingly. It could take up to a year for claims to be processed and verified, and any refund received will not include the fees charged by Western Union or any bank wire fees involved in the transaction.
Learn more about how to avoid money transfer scams, and compare Western Union with other international money transfer services to see which gives you the most bang for a thousand bucks.