Western Union is a trusted network of agent locations worldwide. But how does it protect your money when transferring it overseas?
How does Western Union protect my money?
Western Union protects your international money transfer using digital safeguards and a long history of service.
- SSL technology. Western Union uses encryption technology to keep your bank and identifying information safe along every step of the transfer.
- Backup for recipients without ID. If your recipients are in an emergency situation without ID, you can establish a test question to ensure that your funds are not delayed.
- In business since 1851. Rest assured that Western Union has had many years to work out any kinks.
- Publicly traded company. It has a reputation to uphold and shareholders to keep happy.
- 24-hour customer support. It offers around-the-clock help online and by phone.
Compare Western Union to other international money transfer services
What are my rights when it comes to money transfers?
Since 2013 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has enforced rules to keep US citizens safer when transferring money internationally. Federal law now requires many banks, credit unions and money transfer services to disclose information both before and after a transfer.
Before a transfer, you have the right to know:
- The exchange rate
- Fees and taxes collected from you
- Fees charged by agents overseas and others involved in the transfer process
- The amount your recipient is expected to receive (excluding foreign taxes and recipient fees)
You also should be provided with details on:
- Your right to cancel the transfer. Unless the transfer has been picked up or deposited, you have 30 minutes (and sometimes more) to cancel at no charge.
- The bank or company’s process to investigate and fix any errors. It generally has 90 days to resolve any problems.
These rules apply to all international transfers of $15 or more.
How do I report suspicious activity to Western Union?
If you receive an email or call from somebody claiming to be Western Union, do not click any links or provide any information. Western Union will never email you to confirm your ID, password or payment details. Instead, contact your local authorities or forward your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to avoid a money transfer scam
You’ve undoubtedly heard about somebody who’s been a victim of a money transfer scam. Keep your eyes open and remain vigilant with these simple tips.
- Don’t wire money to strangers. Make sure you know who you’re sending money to. If for an online auction or sale, be sure that you have all of the seller’s information and have confirmed they are reputable before sending your payment.
- Be wary of unsolicited emails and phone calls. Phishing scams often involve an email asking you to resend information or passwords. When in doubt, go to the company’s website directly instead.
- Ask questions. If a company answers quickly and accurately, that’s a good sign that you’re working with a reputable company.
Tips for picking up cash safely
It’s great to know that your transfer is safe, but it’s just as important to protect yourself when picking up money. To safely retrieve your cash:
|Call ahead.||Be aware of the company’s office hours and pick a safe time to get your money. Daylight hours are safest.|
|Bring a friend.||You don’t want to be walking alone with large amounts of money. Ask somebody to come along with you.|
|Deposit your money immediately.||The chances of losing your money to theft or simple carelessness increases the longer you have it with you. Head to a bank and deposit your cash as soon as possible.|
|Keep your cash hidden.||Put your money in your wallet or purse while you are still inside the office. Carrying it out in the open makes you a target.|
If you’re looking to transfer money securely and with peace of mind, Western Union is as safe as any of your available options. Be sure to compare fees, exchange rates and transfer times to find one that fits your needs.
Common money transfer scams to watch out for
|Scam||What to watch out for||What to do|
|Online purchases||Asking for money up front||Do not pay up front, ask to meet or arrange escrow|
|Lottery and sweeps||Must pay a fee to receive your prize||Ignore it; it’s not a real prize|
|“Guaranteed” loans||Request to pay for your application or taxes before you receive the loan||Rip it up; do not send the money|
|Phishing||Asking for personal details over email (bank accounts, passwords, SSN)||Do not reply or click any links – forward the email to email@example.com|
|Charity||Donation requests from a fake charity posing as real one.||Never wire money when donating to charity, regardless of their legitimacy.|
|Nigerian dignitary||Someone contacts you to help recover a large sum of money, and need your bank account info to help pay fees.||Never provide financial information over email.|
|“Stranded traveler”||A loved claims to be in trouble, and they are asking for you to send cash.||Never send a money transfer until you can verify you know the recipient.|
|Online dating||Getting to know someone online and after you feel a connection, they ask you to wire money.||Never send money to someone you have not met in person.|
Does Western Union offer an escrow service or buyer protection?
No. Western Union does not advise customers using it as an escrow service, nor is it affiliated with one. However, you do have rights that are protected by federal law — including the right to cancel your transfer within 30 minutes if initiated through most banks, credit unions or money transfer services.
What do I do if my international transfer is taking a long time to complete?
When your bank processes an international transfer, it often uses an intermediary or correspondent bank. These “middle men” are sometimes the ones holding it up. Ask your bank to investigate where the money might have gotten delayed.
How long does it take for a wire transfer to go through?
In most cases, wire transfers are completed in two or three days. If you use a money transfer service, your money is often delivered sooner, sometimes within minutes.
What is a SWIFT code?
Short for the cumbersome Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a SWIFT code is an international bank code used for incoming transfers. Overseas banks each have a unique SWIFT code that identifies which bank to send money to.
Why did my transfer fail?
Your money transfer could fail if you provided incorrect information regarding your recipient — include bank details and SWIFT codes. Call your bank or provider to learn if you can fix it.