Western Union Offers Tips to Help Consumers Avoid Becoming Victims
of Advance Fee Scams
ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Financially strapped people looking for loans are common. Unfortunately,
thieves looking for loan scam victims are common too.
Posing as representatives from phony loan companies, scammers use
authentic-looking documents and emails and sophisticated websites to
appear legitimate and charge “fees” in advance of making loans.
Consumers pay, but the loans never come through and the scammers are
long gone, often changing the name of their “businesses” every few weeks
to avoid law enforcement.
This is one variation of a scam called the “advance fee” or “prepayment”
scam. While scammers use an ever-changing array of stories to lure
people in, the Federal Bureau of Investigation defines advance fee
schemes as schemes where “the victim pays money to someone in
anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan,
contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in
“Among the advance fee scam complaints we’ve received this year, the
most common, by far, are those involving loan offers, followed by grant
, Director of Consumer Protection at
Western Union (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services. "Scammers
used primarily the phone, followed by phony websites and emails to
contact their victims. They vary their tactics and stories so it’s
important for consumers to always be vigilant so they can protect
Knowledge is critical to avoid becoming a victim so here are some tips
to keep in mind:
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. With advance
fee scams, fraudsters lure people in with loan guarantees regardless
of credit history, promises of big prize money and more.
Be skeptical of any offer where you have to pay money up front. Walk
away if you’re asked for money up front, especially if it’s for
“insurance,” “processing,” or “paperwork.”
Never send money from a deposited check until it officially clears.
Just because funds are available doesn’t mean a check has cleared—by
law, banks must make deposited funds available within a few days but
it can take weeks to uncover a fake check.
If you’re communicating with anyone by email, check for common red
flags like poor grammar, misspellings, character/spacing mistakes, and
excessive capitalization. Look for use of generic email addresses
rather than specific business email addresses.
Do your research.
Be wary of businesses that operate using a post office box and don’t
have a street address.
Check out the company that contacted you with local law enforcement or
a consumer protection agency like the Better Business Bureau, the
Federal Trade Commission, your State Attorney
General’s Office, or other trusted sources.
Check the company out independently by getting its phone number from a
phone book or directory assistance and calling to confirm they are who
they say they are.
If you’re checking out a lender or loan broker, they’re required to
register in the state where they do business so contact your State
Attorney General’s office or your state’s department of banking or
Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know and trust, especially people
you’ve never met in-person.
If you sent a Western Union Money Transfer® and believe you
may be a victim of fraud, call the Western Union Fraud Hotline number at
Information on scams is available on the Consumer Protection section of
Western Union’s website at: http://www.westernunion.com/stopfraud.
Additional information on money wiring scams is available from the
Federal Trade Commission at: www.ftc.gov
> Consumer Protection > Money Matters > Scam Watch > Money Wiring Scams.
About Western Union
The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment
services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western
Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union
provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient
ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to
purchase money orders. As of April 24, 2012, the Western Union, Vigo and
Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network
of approximately 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and
territories. In 2011, The Western Union Company completed 226 million
consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $81 billion of
principal between consumers, and 425 million business payments. For more
information, visit www.westernunion.com.
Source: Western Union