No, the FTC Doesn’t Need Your Banking Info for Western Union Settlement

Maureen Ohlhausen
LDProd/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about a scam that’s pretty ingenious and might just trick even some of the more skeptical internet users.

According to the FTC, people across the country have reported getting an email from a woman named Maureen Ohlhausen. In the email, she asks for personal banking information and says she needs it so the government can send you your portion of a payout from a settlement between the FTC and Western Union.

This scam has the potential to be effective because the scammers have woven just enough truth into their lies.

As it turns out, Ohlhausen really does work for the FTC. She’s the acting chairman. But she is not sending out any emails asking for your banking information.

Also, the FTC really is in the middle of a global settlement with Western Union. The company agreed to repay $586 million to consumers who were tricked into sending money to scammers using its money-wiring service.

However, the FTC is not handling the refund process. The Department of Justice is managing that, and it has not opened the door to claims and refunds just yet. It is still waiting for Western Union to pay up.

Got Burned in a Western Union Scam? Here’s What You Need to Know

For those of you who are expecting money from the Western Union settlement, the FTC says this is what you need to know:

  • Later this year, after Western Union has paid all the settlement money to the DOJ, the government will begin the “Petition for Remission” process, which allows you to make claims.
  • Anyone who lost money to a scammer between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 19, 2017 could qualify for a refund. It’s not yet clear if victims will get the full amount they lost. The amount victims receive will depend on how much they lost, how many people ask for refunds and how much money people lost in total.
  • Although victims can file claims this year, the DOJ will do its due diligence to make sure all claims are valid before paying them out. That means it could take up to a year to get your money back.

While you wait to file a claim, the FTC and DOJ suggest holding on to any paperwork that proves you were a victim of a Western Union scam. They also warn against paying anyone who promises to get money back on your behalf.

If you get one of the scam emails, forward it to the FTC at [email protected]

Desiree Stennett (@desi_stennett) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.