The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services, and Better Business Bureau (BBB) today announced efforts to promote awareness of emergency scams, in which victims are told that their loved one is traveling and needs help. Scammers make urgent pleas for the victim to send money, often to another country. More people travel during the summer, and whenever people are vulnerable, fraudsters will generally attack.
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 a scam. Visitors can sign up to receive BBB Scam Alerts, weekly emails with details on the latest scams reported to BBBs across North America.
“Emergency scams play off peoples’ emotions and strong desire to help friends and family in need,” said Shelley Berhnardt, Director of Consumer Protection at Western Union. “Verify the emergency and resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is.”
Con artists hack into email or social media accounts and target the victim’s friends and family with frantic requests for money. They impersonate the traveler and claim to have an injury, a lost or stolen wallet, or even say they were arrested. Scammers use the information in these accounts to supply enough personal detail to make their requests appear legitimate.
“The stories are extremely plausible, and many scammers have done their research,” said Carrie A. Hurt, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “But you should never send money for an emergency situation without verifying that it’s a real emergency. Always check out the story with other family and friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.”