Attorney General Jim Hood announced Tuesday that popular money-transfer service Western Union will implement a comprehensive anti-fraud program in response to widespread claims of consumer fraud by third parties who use the service in their criminal schemes.
As part of a settlement with Mississippi and other states, Western Union has agreed to develop and put into action a plan intended to detect and prevent incidents where consumers become victims of fraud when they use Western Union to wire money to scammers.
In addition, Mississippi will receive $53,180 in the settlement.
“Criminals continue to craft all kinds of schemes to try to convince consumers to wire them money,” Attorney General Hood said. “Among these common scams are those where consumers have told they’ve won money or prizes, but first must wire money to pay required taxes or fees before they receive their winnings. These criminals try to exploit our instinct to protect our family members through scams saying a loved one is in immediate danger and needs money right away. Most importantly, consumers who receive solicitations from someone they’ve never met in person should be cautious about wiring money.”
The components of the anti-fraud program to be implemented by Western Union include:
· 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;
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 that settlement, announced earlier this month, Western Union has agreed to pay $586 million to a fund that the U.S. Department of Justice will administer to provide refunds to victims of fraud induced wire transfers nationwide, including Mississippi victims. For more information about this settlement, visit https://www.justice.gov/criminal-mlars/remission.
Mississippi, 48 other states and the District of Columbia participated in the state settlement.
For more information about how to avoid wire-transfer scams and fraud, visit www.AGJimHood.com or call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline, (800) 281-4418.