For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: November 14, 2005

Wasden Reaches Agreement With Western Union To Curb Telemarketing Scams

(Boise) - Idaho joined 46 other states in an agreement with Western Union that will fund an $8.1 million national consumer awareness program, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. The program will provide warnings to help consumers from becoming victims of telemarketing scams.

“Fraudulent telemarketers are calling Idahoans claiming they are winners of an International Lottery, for example,” Attorney General Wasden said. “The telemarketers are calling from outside of the United States, claiming the consumer must wire money to pay the taxes or other charges in order to claim the prize.”

“These fraudulent telemarketers often use businesses such as Western Union to perpetrate their scam,” Wasden said. “Once you have sent your money out of the country, there is very little chance that the money can be recovered.”

As a result of the agreement, Western Union will educate and provide prominent warnings to consumers who might be convinced to wire money because of a telemarketing scam, such as to claim a prize.

Western Union also agreed to the following terms:

  • Prominent warnings to consumers of the dangers of fraud-induced wire transfers must appear in English and Spanish on a new front page of Western Union’s Send Form, and comparable warnings are required for telephone and Web transfers.
  • Western Union will pay $8.1 million over five years for national peer-counseling programs to be overseen by the AARP Foundation and designed to reach at least three million consumers.
  • Western Union will reimburse the amount of any transfer plus fees to any consumer who requests, prior to pickup, that a transfer be stopped and who reasonably claims that the transfer was fraud-induced.
  • Western Union will send monthly anti-fraud emails to its agents, revise the company’s agent training video and manual, and provide enhanced training to agents with elevated fraud levels at their locations.
  • Western Union will terminate agents who are involved in fraud, and suspend or terminate agents who do not take reasonable steps requested by Western Union to reduce fraud.
  • Western Union will block wire transfers from specific consumers or to specific recipients when Western Union receives information from a state that there is reason to believe that fraud will occur, until such time as the consumer is counseled on fraud and requests resumption of the transfer.

“Western Union has taken an important step in preventing fraud against Idahoans,” Attorney General Wasden said. “The efforts Western Union is making to clearly and conspicuously warn consumers against telemarketing fraud should provide a model for disclosure we hope will protect Idahoans from becoming victims of consumer fraud.”

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