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Western Union & Better Business Bureau Fight Online Rental Scams

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services, and Better Business Bureau (BBB) today announced efforts to promote awareness of scams involving internet transactions for rental properties. As consumers scan the Internet for good deals, particularly on free classified websites, sophisticated scammers are poised to prey on unsuspecting people.

BBB Scam Stopper was jointly launched by BBB and Western Union as a site to help consumers reduce their chances of becoming a victim of common scams like this one. Online Rental scams generally happen in one of two ways:

Renters looking for a house or an apartment to lease get scammed by someone who poses as an “owner.” Victims come across a place in a great area, at a great price. The advertisement looks legitimate, so they reach out to the “owner,” generally by email. The “owner” says the renter can secure the place by sending money to cover an application fee, security deposit, etc. Often, the owner claims there is a need to move quickly, since others are interested. The prospective renter sends the money, but never hears from the “owner” again.

Some “owners” tell victims to send the money in the name of a friend or family member to prove that funds are available, but this should not be used as a security measure.

In another scenario, legitimate owners seek to rent out their property and get scammed by someone claiming to be a renter. “Renters” contact victims, generally by email, and follow up with a check for the deposit. Shortly after that, the renter cancels the deal and asks the owner to wire the money back. The owner soon finds out the check was a fake, but it is often too late.

Money transfer never-evers

Consumers can lower their chances of falling victim to fraud with these tips:
  • Never use a money transfer service to send money to people you haven’t met in-person.
  • Never provide your banking information to people or businesses you don’t know.
  • Never reimburse someone for a payment made to you by check until you call your bank and verify the funds have cleared.

On BBB Scam Stopper, visitors can sign up to receive BBB Scam Alerts, weekly emails with details on the latest scams reported to BBBs across North America.

Information on scams and how to protect yourself is also available at Western Union’s Consumer Protection Center: http://www.westernunion.com/stopfraud.

About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of June 30, 2013, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of approximately 520,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and approximately 115,000 ATMs. In 2012, The Western Union Company completed 231 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $79 billion of principal between consumers, and 432 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.

About BBB

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution and industry self-regulation.

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