HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro has announced a settlement with the Western Union Company, forcing its officials to install strong anti-fraud measures to protect consumers from being victimized by scams requiring them to send money to third parties.
“We hear all the time from people across Pennsylvania who have lost large sums of money through these scams,” Shapiro said. “This settlement puts in place meaningful safeguards to help prevent consumers from losing their hard-earned money to these scam artists.”
In addition to Pennsylvania, 48 other states and the District of Columbia participated in the settlement announced Tuesday.
As part of the settlement, Western Union has agreed to pay a total of $5 million to the states for states’ costs and fees. Pennsylvania will receive a portion of that total, yet to be determined.
In addition to this settlement with the states, Western Union also settled claims related to fraud-induced transfers with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice.
As part of those settlements, Western Union has agreed to pay $586 million to a fund that the Department of Justice will administer to provide refunds to victims of fraud induced wire transfers nationwide, including Pennsylvania victims.
Of the $586 million, Pennsylvania consumers may be eligible for up to $21.5 million in restitution. To learn more about this settlement and how to apply for restitution, click here.
The settlement requires Western Union, based in Colorado, to develop and put into action a comprehensive anti-fraud program designed to help detect and prevent incidents where consumers use Western Union to wire money to scam artists.
That anti-fraud program, which Western Union has agreed to evaluate and update as warranted, includes the following elements:
- Anti-fraud warnings on send forms that consumers use to wire money.
- Mandatory and appropriate training and education for Western Union’s agents about fraud-induced wire transfers.
- Heightened anti-fraud procedures when warranted by circumstances such as increased fraud complaints.
- Due diligence checks on Western Union agents who process money transfers.
- Monitoring of Western Union agent activity related to prevention of fraud-induced money transfers.
- Prompt and appropriate disciplinary action against Western Union agents who fail to follow required protocols concerning anti-fraud measures.
Shapiro also issued a warning Tuesday to Pennsylvanians to be wary of scams, particularly those that require wiring money to a third party.
“If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Shapiro said. “We want to remind Pennsylvanians they should be extremely cautious when dealing with people they’ve met online or when participating in online contests.
“Scam artists are known to use every scheme imaginable to convince consumers to wire them money. With the settlement, we’re making it harder for scammers to get their hands on Pennsylvanians’ money.”
In addition to Pennsylvania, the following states participated in the settlement: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.
Those who believe they have been contacted by a scam artist are encouraged to call the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555 or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov to file a complaint online.