“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”. As an everyday consumer who makes several purchases a year online, I would have never guessed I would be burned twice by these risky businesses. A few years back I purchased a product on craigslist using Western Union, before the current disclaimers to NEVER use Western Union or Money Gram. I lost $300 and learned that Western Union didn’t require anything from the receiver other than to show ID and didn’t offer any sort of resolution for disputes making Western Union the perfect addition to the lengthiest running successful online business; scamming people. Lesson learned, I thought.
Again, I purchase many products on EBay, PayPal etc. and am proficient in disputing with these companies including my bank. These three services together or individually have always returned my money without much delay. Last year, I decided to invest into online advertising for websites out of Phoenix, AZ . One company accepted PayPal, so even though I sent a considerable amount of money, I knew PayPal or my bank would fight for it back. The second company, despite my persistence would not accept anything but wired funds insisting that money with PayPal was tied up so long that his company stopped using them and similarly described credit card transactions. Not going back to Western Union, I looked into Money Gram. I called customer service and the dispute department asking questions about safety and security. Having felt that action could be taken if needed, I wired four transactions of $300 each. After the first wire transfer, I called the dispute department and asked who picked up the cash if they keep records, etc.
Long story short, Money Gram and Western Union keep records and payments have to be signed for, but scammers use other people to sign for cash, so even if the scammer is blacklisted they can send any person with ID to get it. Worst, they provide no legal recourse and police won’t bother to look into it. You have to report a loss locally, but police can’t do anything in the state that the crime happened, and don’t work with that state to solve the crime. Basically, after you file the report they let you know there is nothing they can do, but keep it on file if there are more complaints.
Similarly Green Dot though run by PayPal, is another wiring service and will not be able or willing to help you in the event of fraud. My bank and PayPal returned every penny of the $5000 dollars even as far back as 6 months later for my first investment… Green Dot, Money Gram and Western Union all filed a complaint with no follow up. These services are expensive and provide easy outlets for thieves to receive money directly with the illusion that consumers have safety and security that comes with these large profitable corporations. Consumers pay outrageous fees to these companies to simply wire money, but the post office and your bank can often do this for less with the same lack of security.
I have researched these companies on several occasions and the consensus is that Money Gram and Western Union are not secure, safe businesses to use, but no legal or private action has been taken against them, so they continue to profit and open new locations in Wal-Mart and grocery stores everywhere without even employees bothering to ask questions or informing consumers of the risk. So if you are still looking for the answer to ” Is it safe to use Money Gram, Western Union or Green Dot? “, take it from me, an online purchasing veteran, DO NOT send any amount of money for any reason to anyone that you do not know through a wiring service. Always use PayPal and your credit card (not debit) to make online purchases. A major credit card is your first and last defense to online fraud.
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