Consumers who were tricked into wiring money to scammers using Western Union have until May 31 to make a claim and get some money back, according to the office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

The original deadline was Feb. 12, but it was extended last week to May 31, Collins’ office said.

“Each year, scammers take an estimated $2.9 billion from older Americans through scams and financial exploitation,” Collins said in a news release. Most don’t get their money back, “but I am pleased that some will be able to take part in this settlement. I urge those who have fallen victim to scams and paid through Western Union to file their claim.”

If you were tricked into sending money through Western Union between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 19, 2007, you could be eligible to get a partial refund, the AARP Fraud Watch Network advises. To file a claim or to learn more, go to www.ftc.gov/wu. Or, call the FTC headquarters in Washington, D.C., at (202) 326-2222.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers contacted people promising prizes, loans, jobs, discounted products or other financial rewards, or pretended to be family members or law enforcement officers demanding payment be wired through Western Union. No one received any cash, prizes or services they were promised.

Because of joint investigations by the FTC, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Western Union agreed to pay $586 million and admitted to aiding and abetting wire fraud. The Department of Justice is using that money to provide refunds to people tricked into using Western Union to pay scammers.

For more information about scams, contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork. Or, call AARP at 888-OUR-AARP.


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