Imagine taking a thousand dollar bill, putting it in an envelope and mailing to a stranger on the internet. That’s what a lot of people think is happening with Western Union these days. In light of the company’s recent problems with the FCC, you may be wondering what their story is and whether you should use their services.
In fact, you may be asking, is Western Union safe for sending money?
The answer is: Yes, Western Union is safe.
However, this answer requires several caveats. In January 2017, The Federal Trade Commission penalized Western Union to the tune of $556 Million, due to hundreds of thousands of cases of Western Union related fraud. The key here is the term “related”. In the vast majority of these cases, Western Union faithfully executed the financial transaction. However, the recipients of these transactions had fraudulently convinced sellers to send the funds, typically as part of a romance scam, advance fee fraud or the like (FCC). Additionally, Western Union’s annual stock reports indicate several of their agents in Ireland and were indicted in EU courts for fraud and the company has recently been also been penalized by the U.S. government for failing to prevent money laundering activity on the US/Mexican border.
Western Union and Fraud Prevention
In asking yourself: is Western Union safe?, these troublesome trends should be put in context. Western Union is a massive, global organization. The company has over 10,000 employees and the volume of business they do is staggering – 29 transactions per second (1). In order to handle this huge volume, they use a network of partner companies and subcontractors. Thus to fully prevent fraud, the company would need to police their global network while remaining in compliance with the laws of hundreds of countries – a herculean task.
Western Union does appear to take the job of preventing fraud seriously. The person who is receiving money from you has to provide identification, such as a drivers license or passport, in order to obtain the cash. You are also given a special security number when you make the transaction.
From the WU website:
Source: Western Union.
Western Union also includes a list of security considerations on its website. It’s well worth taking a look. So, problems usually appear to happen due to bad intent on the part of the transaction recipients and not due to any technical failings due to Western Union. You need to make sure that the person you are sending money to is legitimate. If you do not check information and credentials, no matter what the reason for sending money is, you could be at risk of losing out financially. Common scams typically involving wire transfer fraud are 419 or advance fee fraud, IRS refund scams or fake job scams.
Western Union is Simple and Popular
Western Union is the biggest money transfer provider in the world. You can send money to people in more than 200 geographical locations.
One of the biggest benefits of using Western Union is flexibility. You can transfer money electronically, using an agent or even via phone. You can use a credit or debit card, or your bank account to fund the transfer. The speed of the service depends on which transfer option you choose; but transfers to agents for the recipient to collect can often be completed in minutes. It’s worth noting that you pay more for using this service, as opposed to transfers using a bank account which can take several days.
Is Western Union safe? Mostly yes. Western Union is a very popular choice, especially when it comes to transferring money overseas. Choosing this solution means that you have plenty of options when it comes to how to transfer money, depending on the timeframe involved. It’s more likely that you will encounter problems because of failure of due diligence (e.g. improperly filled out applications, or lack of knowledge about the recipient) than because of any issues with Western Union itself.
After reading this article, if you want to use Western Union you can check Western Union locations online. The system is easy to use and is safe provided you know who you are dealing with.
Finally, if you just want to learn about making money, not just sending it, read our articles on:
Like Us? Sign Up!
Subscribe to get the latest budget buzz via email.