October 25, 2020

Caribbean Currents: The good, bad and ugly sides of Western Union

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From The Philadelphia Tribune

Immigrants have an unsolicited relationship with many companies because of the vital services they provide. and MoneyGram are among the companies that offer money transfer services and because of this this, many lives have been transformed.

Western Union dominates the market when it comes to transferring money to the , because the company has been in business for a very long time. It started out as a telegraph company in the 1800s and has evolved into offering financial and time-related services that Caribbean people use today. The ability to transfer money to our Caribbean homelands within hours has been invaluable.

Sarah James, a Caribbean-American and Delaware County resident, shared her recent experience of using Western Union’s money transfer services.

“I had just received a reminder from my relatives that payments were due for the bi-annual family ,” James said. “I went to my local supermarket to transfer the required fees to a cousin in Jamaica. To my surprise the agent informed me that the process is now paperless, you no longer have to fill out a form.

“That was not a problem, I provided the necessary information, paid the fees and walked away feeling elated. I smiled at the thought of all the fun that is ahead of me in Jamaica, spending time with my favorite auntie and uncle, seeing my cousins who are like brothers and sisters me. Yes, it is going to be a fabulous time,” she added.

All of the excitement changed to disappointment for James the very next day.

“My phone rang and as I reached to answer, my eyes caught the name Western Union in the caller ID,” she recalled. “I answered with caution and an agent stated that my Western Union transfer was placed on hold because of suspicion of fraud. I couldn’t believe it. He then asked me for my date of birth. That was a red flag, so of course I didn’t give it to him.

“I immediately got off the phone and called back to make sure this was not some kind of scam. Another agent answered and proceeded to repeat what the previous agent said, ‘Fraud suspicion,’ ” she said.

James said that she was even more confused because of the barrage of questions that came from the representative:

How did you notify the recipient of these funds? What will these funds be used for? How do you know the person to whom you sent this money? Are you related to this person?

“I did explain that the recipient was one of the coordinators for the family reunion and that she is a cousin that I never met,” said James. “I was officially informed that the transaction was cancelled and my money will be returned to me. I was speechless as I wrote down the code number I would need to pick up my money.

“I did do some research and learned that Western Union issued safety warnings that suggests that transfers should not be made to persons you have never met. I came to the conclusion that since my family members were all sending monies to the same individual, it must have triggered some type of alert within the company,” she said.

“And I should not have said that it is a cousin that I never met,” James aid.

In the last couple of months, Western Union is also asking other questions such as “Where were you born?”

What does that have to do with sending money?

So now the company wants to track how much money each immigrant is sending to relatives? Are our freedoms being challenged?

Freedom is why everyone is drawn to the in their search for liberty and democracy.

Caribbean immigrants in the United States are hard workers who have a definite goal in mind: to use their salaries to open more doors of opportunities for themselves and family members.

Through Western Union, Caribbean immigrants can easily send money for school tuition, medical expenses, provide services for elderly parents or other relatives — the same as an American-born person would do for his or her relatives.

The point is that money transfer companies have created a service that has opened up an avenue for a more sustainable and improved lifestyle for those relatives in the Caribbean.

We are really living in trying times. Big brother is definitely watching. Our freedoms are being taken away a little bit at a time. One has to wonder if there is any privacy left? Too sad.

Western Union, please continue to provide the quality service that we expect from you.

For more on this story go to: http://www.phillytrib.com/commentary/caribbean-currents-the-good-bad-and-ugly-sides-of-western/article_9a08ec73-6e1f-5255-978d-b459ce8c551c.html

IMAGE: Western Union logo

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