Is Western Union safe in Australia? What you need to know

Roberto Efflandrin

The online space can be like the wild west, especially when it comes to moving money. As the demand for secure financial transactions grows, concerns regarding the protection of personal information and the prevention of fraudulent activities become increasingly relevant.

This article looks at one of the major players in moving money abroad, Western Union, and how safe their services are to use in Australia.

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Who is Western Union in Australia

Western Union (WU) is a financial services company that allows individuals and businesses to send and receive money across borders. They began their early operations in North America in 1861, and now transfer money to over 200 countries in 25 plus currencies.

In Australia, WU is used by people who need to send funds to family members, friends, or business associates within Australia or abroad. Western Union offers their customers the ability to access their services through various channels, including agent locations, online platforms, and their mobile App.¹

Is Western Union safe in Australia?

Western Union is considered a safe and reputable company for international money transfers. As a well known global company, WU must integrate a range of security safeguards to maintain their services and their reputation. WU has also been in operation for 160 years, meaning it is a consistently trusted name for sending money overseas.¹

How is Western Union regulated in Australia?

Western Union operates in Australia under the business name of Western Union Financial Services (Australia) Pty Ltd.² Western Union is regulated by the relevant local laws which allows them to provide their services to Australian customers.³

They also must report to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).⁴ In other countries, WU operates in accordance with local laws and regulations.

How is your money kept safe at Western Union ?

WU promotes the use of the latest technologies to support their international money transfers. This includes identity verification on account sign-up and transfer tracking for any transfers sent using their services. However, WU also states they hold no liability in the event a money transfer using their services doesn’t make it to the receiver.⁴

Holding large amounts with Western Union

The payment limits set by WU vary based on the destination country that a transfer is set to be sent to and the type of payment method used. However, it is possible from some jurisdictions including Australia to send up to $50,000 USD or the Australian equivalent using the service.⁵

This limit can change if you want to send large sums of money from an agent location in Australia. For transfers over $9000, you may need to provide some additional details to the WU agent location for them to accept your transfer.⁵

What about scam protection at Western Union?

Western Union implements their own fraud protection into their service. However, not all fraudulent activity can be stopped by this. Scammers use sophisticated techniques to convince their victims to transfer money.

WU provides educational information that helps their customers identify a scam on their website. Some general advice includes⁶:

1. Beware of suspicious emails or messages

Watch out for unsolicited, strangely addressed, and poorly written emails with links or attachments.

2. Guard your personal information

Be cautious of requests for passwords, account details, or any personal information.

3. Stay alert to dodgy scam calls

Avoid providing financial details over calls demanding immediate payments via gift cards, prepaid cards, or money transfers.

4. Verify emergencies with your provider

Exercise caution with unsolicited calls regarding services. Remember, legitimate entities usually don't initiate contact unless you reach out first.

Data protection at Western Union

WU uses a combination of organisational, technical, and administrative measures to protect all their customers personal data.⁷ This includes encryption technology on all transfers. When it comes to how data is stored, all data is kept in Western Unions own secure databases.⁴

How long is your data kept at Western Union

Western Union holds on to your data for as long as required by Australian law. For financial providers, this is a period of 7 years. This includes all transaction data and customer identification data.⁸ If this timeframe has passed, WU will only retain your information if they deem it necessary for their services.⁹

Requesting deletion of your data at Western Union

Unfortunately, due to Australian laws, you won't be able to request the deletion of your data until it is past the 7 year limit. You can however contact Western Union to update or request a change to how they use your data.⁸

What are the protection systems in place for your Western Union account in Australia

There are a few protection systems in place to protect a Western Union account in Australia. These protections include¹⁰:

  • Identity verification
  • Encryption technology
  • Choice of additional security question¹¹
  • Passwords on login¹¹
  • Fraud protections
  • Tracking reference (MTCN) on all transfers⁵

Although these are helpful at protecting your account, no system is 100% foolproof. It is up to you to instil extra measures through your own due diligence to keep your Western Union account secured.

Transferring money with Western Union and security measures

One of the main ways that Western Union protects their customers' money is through their strict identity verification process. This is so that any money being transferred on Western Union can be safe from being used for illegal activities. Once an identity is verified and accepted, a WU account holder will be able to send up to $5000 overseas online.¹²

If you need to send money through their other mechanisms, you also may be required to provide⁴:

  • An address
  • A range of questions about the transfer
  • Additional documentation
  • A telephone interview

This all depends on how you choose to send the money, the location and how much you want to transfer. If the correct documents are not provided on request, then you will not be able to use Western Unions services.

Tips to help you keep your account safe at Western Union

The best way to know your account is as secure as possible is by implementing these tips¹³:

  1. Never send money to someone you haven't met
  2. Use strong and complex passwords
  3. Keep your login details private.
  4. Use multi-factor authentication
  5. Use different passwords for every account and change them regularly
  6. Avoid public Wi-Fi for online transactions
  7. Exercise caution when shopping online
  8. Frequently monitor your account activity especially overseas
  9. Keep your account details current with Western Union.
  10. Stay informed by knowing common scams and security practices.

Contacting Western Union

If you need to reach out to a representative at Western Union, you can:

  • Call 1800 173 833 from within Australia
  • Call +61 2923 19729 from outside of Australia

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Here are some other FAQs commonly asked when referring to the safety of Western Unions Services.

Is WU safer than a traditional bank?

Western Union is not a bank, so their services are regulated differently to those offered by a traditional bank like the Big 4 in Australia. This means that you are subject to WU terms when it comes to using their services for transfers.

What happens if my transfer is delayed?

If your WU transfer gets delayed, WU will notify you through the information you provided at the time of setting up your WU account or transfer.⁵

Can my transfer be traced with WU?

Yes, every transfer is allocated a Western Union Tracking number, otherwise referred to as a MTCN. Anyone with this number can trace the transfer through the Western Union website or the app. It’s important to only share this number with the people attached with the transfer specifically.⁵

The Wise Account

The Wise Account enables you to store over 40 international currencies and get local account details for a number of different countries, including AUD, NZD, EUR, USD and GBP. You can use these to easily transfer your money to Wise or get paid by others.

You’ll also avoid high international transaction fees and get access to the mid-market rate on all conversions and money transfers. The best part — you can open and manage your Wise account completely online.

Safety is super important at Wise and it’s regulated wherever it operates. In Australia, it is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL number 513764). On top of this, Wise has dedicated compliance teams and systems working around the clock to keep our customers’ money safe.

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  1. Western Union Corporate
  2. Western Union Terms
  3. Western Union regulation
  4. Western Union AUSTRAC & FAQ
  5. Western Union large amounts
  6. Western Union fraud
  7. Western Union information security
  8. AUSTRAC obligations
  9. Western Union privacy
  10. Western union encryption
  11. Western Union passwords and security
  12. Western Union verification
  13. Western Union fraud knowledge

Sources checked on: 13 February 2024

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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