Chances are that people you know were duped by scammers and wired the money via Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017. This Thursday, May 31st, is the deadline for consumers to file claims to get money back from the FTC’s and the Department of Justice’s settlement with Western Union. Do your friends a favor and tell them about the deadline. While you’re at it, could you convey another important message about how to spot refund scams? In addition, the application deadline offers a timely reminder to business people to heed the lesson of the Western Union lawsuit.
How to apply for a refund. File your claim at FTC.gov/WU. Do it right now and avoid the last-minute flurry of filers on May 31st. Include as much information as you have, upload any relevant documents, and click. That’s it. Once you’ve done that, please be patient because it’s going to take some time before refunds are issued. It may seem like radio silence, but a lot is going on behind the scenes. Every application needs to be looked at to make sure the money is going to eligible consumers. We appreciate the inclination to ask “Where’s my refund?!!?” but we hope you understand the need for accuracy.
How to spot a refund scam. We’ve seen it in other refund cases, and it’s happening here, too. Scammers have been trying to mislead people who may be eligible for refunds as a result of the FTC-DOJ Western Union settlement. One email claimed to be from the FBI and promised refunds of $500,000. Other con artists “guaranteed” money back and said they have an inside track on the process. We can describe those offers in two words: PHONY and BALONEY. There’s no need to hire a lawyer. There’s no need to email anybody. There’s no short cut or fast track to speed up the process. And you don’t have to pay anybody anything when the goverment gets refunds for consumers. Not now and not ever.
A message for businesses. In addition to the financial remedy, the settlement with Western Union mandates a comprehensive compliance program that touches on virtually every part of the company. The lesson for other businesses is to monitor what others are doing on your behalf and to take consumer complaints seriously. Simply put, when fraud is staring you in the face, don’t look the other way.