Beware of the Western Union ‘Free Money’ Scam
If you've recently received a text from Western Union telling you that you've got some money waiting for you (along with a link to click on to get the cash), you're more than likely a potential scam victim. Don't click the link.
The text scam takes on various forms, from "you've got cash waiting" to "Congratulations, you've won a cash prize," and it's happening nationwide.
From Western Union's website:
Consumers in the Southeast region of the U.S. are receiving smishing/phishing texts informing them that they have won a prize award from Western Union. The link in the text takes the consumer to a website where they are prompted to enter their personal identification information including driver’s license number. Please be advised that these are fraudulent texts and a fraudulent website. Please report receipt of a phishing/smishing text claiming you have won a prize award to your local law enforcement.
That's a warning for people in the Southwest. Here in Northern Illinois, the text scam has shown up in Poplar Grove, with the wording being "Money arrived. Claim your $____."
Should you click on the link provided within the text, not surprisingly, you won't be getting any money. What you'll get are hackers with access to your personal information, and a potential case of identity theft.
From WIFR's 23News:
Dave Walters, the J & D Countryside Marathon Manager in Poplar Grove, said one of his employees and multiple customers came to his business’s Western Union Outlet Thursday morning asking about this questionable text message.
The text reads, "Money arrived. Claim your $242." Walters said he called Western Union, who told him they have been hacked and they are putting security blocks out for this fraud.
23News goes on to point out:
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips if we receive this message: never click on a link in any unexpected e-mail without knowing or fully checking out the source, never share personal or financial data over the internet because fake links can lead to money and identity theft, and report scams to authorities and the BBB Scamtracker. If you get a text message like this, you can call Western Union Fraud at 1-800-448-1492 or go to BBB.org to report it.