Fraud Alert & Consumer Protection

Western Union® takes consumer fraud very seriously.

We value our consumers and know they work hard for their money. When our consumers lose by becoming the victim of fraud, we feel like we lose too.

If you receive an email from a company representing itself as Western Union and you are not sure it was sent by Western Union, do not click on any links in the email. Instead, contact us at spoof@westernunion.com

  • Western Union will never send you an email asking for your user ID or password.
  • The questions and answers below advise consumers about how to protect themselves.

There is further information about consumer fraud here and we have written some short articles that explain common scams in more detail.

What are the common fraud scenarios, or scams?

Be careful about responding to offers of:

  • once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunities.
  • return of a lost pet, or valuables, you’ve advertised as lost.
  • bargain-priced electronics or other normally expensive items.

Beware if you are asked to:

  • pay a fee before receiving a loan.
  • transfer money to claim a prize, lottery, or sweepstakes winning. There are many companies running fraudulent contests that ask you to transfer money, but give you nothing in return.

Beware of:

  • letters or emails from Nigerian or other foreign government officials asking for your assistance to transfer excess funds from a foreign country into your bank account.
  • telephone calls from a police officer or hospital personnel claiming someone you know has been in an accident, or been arrested, and needs money for treatment or bail.
  • sellers who will only accept money transfers as payments. Most legitimate sellers will accept several methods of payment.

How can I protect myself?

  • Only transfer money to someone you know, or whose identity you can verify.
  • For instance, if you are purchasing goods or services from someone you don’t know and paying through the Western Union network, it is your responsibility to verify that the seller is legitimate and has a good reputation. Western Union is not responsible for the non-receipt, or quality of any goods or services.
  • Sometimes consumers send money using a fictitious recipient’s name, planning to change it once they have received their good or services. Don’t do it. This will not protect you when purchasing from someone you don’t know. Criminals often have access to fraudulent identification that’s difficult to distinguish from legitimate ID.
  • Remember that Western Union does not require a receiver to present a money transfer control number (MTCN) to pick up funds. However, we require the receiver to present proper ID that matches the name on the money transfer.
  • Discontinue a telephone call if the caller coaches you about how to respond to questions asked by Western Union. This is a sure sign of fraud. Remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How can I protect my password?

  • Never share your password with anyone.
  • If you think someone may have your password, change it immediately.
  • Make your password unique and hard to guess.
  • Use a password that includes both letters and numbers.
  • Never use your email address as your password.
  • Change your password regularly.
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple online services.
  • Avoid writing your password down where other can see it.
  • If someone contacts you claiming to be Western Union and asks for your password or invites you to click on a link, don’t do it. Instead forward any suspicious emails to Western Union.
  • Western Union will never send you an email asking for your user ID or password.
  • Install virus-scanning software and anti-spyware programs. These programs can help protect you from viruses and other “malware” that could disclose your identity to fraudsters.
  • If you use the Micosoft® Windows® operating system, enable Windows updates to keep your system protected. You can learn more about Windows updates at www.microsoft.com
  • Use extra caution when entering your password on a computer that does not belong to you. Viruses, spyware, or the browser’s settings might be used by scammers to record your username and password.

I received a suspicious email from someone claiming to be Western Union. What should I do?

  • If you receive an email from a company representing itself as Western Union and you are not sure it was sent by Western Union, do not click on any links in the email. Instead, immediately forward the suspicious email to Western Union.
  • Remember that Western Union will never send you an email asking for your password or user ID.

Can the Test Question feature secure my funds, or delay payment of a transaction?

  • The Test Question feature in the Western Union Money Transfer service is designed for emergency situations where the receiver does not have proper identification. (For example, the receiver’s wallet and identification has been stolen.) In most cases, any other use of a test question may be fraudulent.* It should never be used as additional security or to delay the payment of a transaction.
  • *A few countries require use of a test question in addition to identification in order to process a transaction. Check with your Western Union Agent location to be sure of the requirements in your receiver’s country.

Does Western Union offer an escrow service, or any kind of buyer protection?

  • Escrow services refer to use of a neutral third party that holds funds until certain conditions are met. Western Union does not offer an escrow service, or any kind of “purchase protection” policy.
  • Western Union’s business is to transfer funds from a sender to a receiver. We caution consumers against sending money to people they don’t know. If a receiver presents proper identification with the same name as on the money transfer, payment will be made.
  • Beware of third party “collection” or “holding” services unless they are a reputable licensed escrow service. Western Union is not an escrow service, should not be used as an escrow service, and is not currently affiliated with any escrow service.

What can I do if I suspect fraud, or I am a victim of fraud?

  • If you have just sent a money transfer and suspect fraud, ask the sales clerk to stop your transaction immediately, or call Western Union. If the transfer has not yet been completed your principal will be refunded.
  • Contact your provincial Attorney Generals’ Office of Consumer Affairs if you are uncertain or suspicious of a telephone or email.
  • If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, you can contact your local law enforcement authorities.
  • For further information, visit Phonebusters.

What does Western Union do to protect my information?

  • Western Union uses a variety of methods to protect the confidentiality of your personal information, including Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology.
  • If you have questions that are not answered here, please contact us by email, mail, or phone.

Some short articles about common scams, written by the fraud experts at Western Union (PDF format):