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Western Union Refunds Still Available to Scam Victims

July 1 deadline looms to file a claim under massive $586 million fraud settlement

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If you lost money to a scammer whom you paid using Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017, you have until July 1 to file a claim for a refund under a settlement between the payment service and the federal government.​

In March, the government launched the second phase of consumer paybacks mandated by a 2017 deal Western Union reached with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to settle charges that the company aided and abetted wire fraud.

Following joint investigations by the FTC, the DOJ and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Western Union agreed to forfeit $586 million to provide refunds to consumers who were deceived into using the service to send money to scammers.

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More than $365 million from the forfeiture fund had been disbursed to about 148,000 victims as of mid-2021, according to the DOJ, which reviews and authorizes refund claims.

Under the deal, Western Union admitted that it did not do enough to prevent criminals from using its services for fraudulent purposes, deceiving people into sending payments by posing as suitors or family members in need of cash or promising prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards in exchange for money up front.

Along with reimbursing victims, Western Union was ordered to take several steps to beef up consumer protection, including comprehensive anti-fraud training for its employees, improved monitoring to detect suspicious transfers, conspicuous fraud warnings on money transfer forms and more avenues for people to file fraud complaints with the company.

How to claim a refund

Payback is available to people who sent a money transfer via Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2017, as a result of a scam. Gilardi & Co., the firm hired by DOJ to manage the process, has sent hundreds of thousands of prefilled claim forms showing prospective refund amounts to people who may be eligible, based on reports they previously filed with Western Union.

If you believe you are eligible but have not been contacted by the administrator, you can file a claim electronically or call 855-786-1048 to request a form. For more information on obtaining or returning a claim form, what to do if you disagree with the amount offered, or other aspects of the refund process, see the claims administration website or the FTC’s Western Union refunds page.

Refund amounts are based solely on how much you sent in the scam transaction, and only Western Union transfers are covered. You cannot be reimbursed for other costs, such as Western Union fees, incidental expenses or payments made by other means.

You may be asked to provide documentation of the transaction, such as a copy of the money transfer receipt. Contact Western Union customer care to request a receipt or information on your transaction history.

Andy Markowitz is a contributing writer and editor for AARP, covering Social Security and fraud. He is a former editor of The Prague Post and Baltimore City Paper.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free Watchdog Alerts, review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.