Thousands of Texas residents may be eligible for a refund following a federal investigation into Western Union, but the deadline to file is fast approaching. Consumers who lost money to a scammer by wiring money through Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, can now file a claim to get their money back. According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, 39,000 Texas residents may be eligible. The deadline to file the free claim is May 31, 2018.
The refunds are a result of a joint investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (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.
Once the claim is filed, the DOJ will check with the Treasury Offset Program to ensure that victims do not owe money to the federal government, which could reduce the refund amount. Consumers who sent multiple wire transfers can also file a different claim for each case. Other expenses like Western Union fees, losses or transfers sent through other businesses are not eligible for a refund.
Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas also wants to warn you of possible scams related to this refund. Con artists will send an official-looking email about the Western Union settlement and ask you for information about your transaction, along with your name and address. The thing to know is that you cannot apply for a refund by email. These emails are scams. Do not respond and do not give out any personal information.
To file a claim, go to ftc.gov/wu. According to the FTC, it will take up to a year to process the claim and determine eligibility for repayment.
Some of the types of scams that requested money to be transferred include:
Romance Scams – A person you meet online expresses interest in you romantically. When you are serious with your new friend they ask for money to travel to see you, for medical services, or to help a family member.
Advance Fee Loans – A loan is offered, but there is a fee that must be paid upfront prior to the issuing of the loan. The fee is for a processing fee or insurance.
Lottery or Prize Scams – You are informed that you have won a prize or are a winner in a lottery. To collect your prize, you must pay taxes, shipping or other fees upfront.
In each case, your money is gone without getting what you paid for. BBB reminds consumers to never send money to a stranger by an untraceable method such as wire transfer, cashier’s check, or a prepaid gift card or debit card. For more information on how to avoid these types of scams, go to BBB.org/avoidscams.
Heather Massey is the Senior Regional Director for the Permian Basin office of Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas. Heather is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. You can reach her by phone: (432) 741-2592 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.