By Karen Dodge
Senior Attorney, Midwest Region, Federal Trade Commission
Did you lose money to a scam, wiring the money via Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017? If so, you might know that May 31 is the deadline for filing your claim to get money back from the FTC’s and the Department of Justice’s settlement with Western Union. With the deadline fast approaching, we know two things: (1) there will probably be a rush of last-minute filers; and (2) scammers will try to take advantage of the people filing claims.
We’re sure about those scammers because we’ve already seen them (and told you about them). And we’re still seeing scams that offer to get you special access, so-called easier ways to file, and promises of big amounts of money. This includes one recent email that said it came from the FBI, promised a refund of more than $500,000 – and said you could claim it just by emailing a Gmail address.
So, as the days click down until May 31 deadline for filing, remember: if anyone promises you a refund – or says they’re the only way to get one, that’s a scam. If anybody tries to charge you to get your money back, that’s also a scam. If you’re still planning to submit a claim, here are a few quick pointers:
- Start your claim at FTC.gov/WU. You don’t need to email anybody or hire a lawyer. Just start here, put in as much information as you have, upload whatever documents you have, and submit.
- It’s free to file your claim. Don’t pay anybody to get a refund. Ever.
- There are no guarantees. Nobody can promise you a refund at all, much less a specific amount of money. There’s a whole process that will happen once all the claims are in – to validate them, and then divide up the money among all the people who qualified.
- There are no short-cuts. That validated process? It’ll take a while. There’s no short-cut or special access. It might take a year to get your money back, but nobody can help you get it any faster.
if you spot anybody making any of those promises, or charging for a refund, the FTC wants to know about it.