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Q: I read in the news that Western Union would be refunding money to people who lost money on a scam while using their services. Is it too late for me to submit a claim?

A: There is still time to file your claim with the Federal Trade Commission if you lost money by sending funds through Western Union. The FTC just announced they would be extending the deadline to file a claim until May 31.

The refunds are part of a joint investigation between the FTC, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The investigation resulted in a global $586 million settlement with the FTC.

As part of the settlement, Western Union is required to pay back more than $500 million in refunds to victims of scams. Once claims are verified by the DOJ, the amount of each payout to victims will depend on the total number of validated claims. But time is running out for victims hoping to get their money back. So, you better act fast if you have a claim you need to file. It’s important to note that the refunds are only for those who lost money between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 19, 2017.

If you wish to file a claim or learn more about the refund process, you can visit the Western Union Refund page at ftc.gov. You may also contact the refund administrator by telephone at 1-844-319-2124 or email, at info@westernunionremission.com.

If you were a victim of multiple scams, you might be eligible to file a different claim for each case. Once the claim is filed, the DOJ will check to ensure victims do not owe money to the federal government. Refunds could be reduced if victims owe money.

Untraceable methods of payment such as a wire transfer, cashier’s check or preloaded gift or debit card are a red flag and common element in many types of consumer fraud. This includes online dating (romance) scams, fake lotteries and sweepstakes, advance fee loan swindles and relative in distress fraud, better known as the grandparent scam.

In 2017, BBB Scam Tracker received nearly 88,000 scam reports. More than 10 percent of these scams requested consumers wire money to complete the transaction.

Untraceable payment methods are at the heart of impostor scams. Many are made through threatening telephone calls that supposedly originated with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and other government departments. Most recently we’ve BBB has seen scammers impersonate utility companies to receive payment.

BBB reminds consumers to never send money to a stranger by an untraceable method such as wire transfer, cashier’s check, or a prepaid gift card or debit card.

For tips on how to avoid scams visit bbb.org/avoidscams/.

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