Words of Mouse

Western Union Warning

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I just wanted to let all of my fellow freelancers know about a situation I encountered with Western Union last week so you can avoid them at all costs. I needed to send money online, so I did so using my debit card. I sent $275 and the transaction came to $309 with the Western Union fee. I received a money transfer control number and was told that my transaction was successfully submitted. Then I had to call Western Union for security verification and answer a million questions. Then I was told the transaction would be declined because it “did not meet their business requirements.” However, Western Union had already asked for authorization from the card company for $309, so the $309 was taken from my available balance. The card company said if Western Union would fax them a statement that the transaction had been canceled, they would release the hold and credit my account immediately. Western Union refused to do so.

This seems like an excellent example of “security theater” – a bunch of security measures that are intended to make people feel more secure while doing nothing to actually improve security. They hassled me to prove who I am, and then I spent an hour on the phone with them trying to get my money back. Meanwhile, some actual terrorist was probably getting money from another source, or an online scammer was raking in thousands from unsuspecting customers. I understand the need for security, but I do not understand why Western Union cannot do their verification before they ask for authorization for funds from your account. I did a search for “Western Union complaints” and found a site with nearly 200 people commenting that the same thing happened to them. They paid for the transaction, called to verify the information, and then their transaction was canceled and their money was in limbo for several days.

This is not a good way to do business and it’s doing nothing to improve security. If you need to send money in an emergency, I recommend using Money Gram or a similar service. If you use Western Union, you may end up paying money for a service you don’t receive.

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Written by lzaykoski

September 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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