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Safest Ways to Send Money

When transferring money either as an individual or a business, your top priority should be the safety of your funds. The provider you choose must be approved, licensed and regulated by the relevant authorities in the markets they operate. This gives you the confidence you need to send your money anywhere in the world.

In this guide, we will take you through the risks and security aspects to watch out for when sending money and the safest way to transfer money. This includes the general safety of internet-based transfers, how to assess platform safety, and the security protocols safeguarding online transfers.

Updated: 18/06/2021
Read time: 11 minutes
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Quick Summary: What is the Safest Way to Transfer Money?

The safest way to transfer money is to use a reputable, regulated money transfer provider or your bank account. Companies specialising in international payments, with robust security measures will help protect both parties involved in an international transaction. Like all matters related to personal finance, whether this is personal loans or understanding your credit score, it is hugely important to assess all your options when transferring funds. This ensures the safest, cheapest and fastest money transfers for your needs.

What to watch out for when sending money

When making international money transfers, never trust your money with just any provider. Being diligent about your personal safety, the safety of your device, bank account and funds will aid in finding the safest way to transfer money. It should be noted, there are several risks involved in money transfers. Here are is a summary of what to watch out for.

Essentially, the provider of any financial transfer should guard you against identity theft, suspicious and fraudulent activities, as well as protect your information from being intercepted. It is best practice to consider money transfer providers as financial institutions in their own right, this allows you to look at them objectively as you would a bank account. However, users also must ensure their own personal safety by securing their passwords, personal documents, installing security updates, and being on the lookout for hoax emails. Here’s a full breakdown of what to bear in mind:

  • Identity theft and fraud: This refers to unauthorised dealings by a person assuming your identity. Criminals and fraudsters can get access to information such as passwords and security questions to get past the login page. Do not give information to anyone purporting to be from your money transfer provider unless they can prove their identity, and always ensure the platform has measures like session time-outs and two-step verification processes for added security.
  • Insecure platforms: Users sending money online face the risk of information interception and capture due to insecure browsers and servers. This happens when the provider’s website SSL certificate has expired or does not exist. Ensure that the website you’re using has a valid SSL certificate (you can check this by seeing if there is a little padlock logo in on the left of the search bar in your browser). You can verify the validity of the SSL certificate by clicking on this padlock. Also, it is a good idea to check for security layers like Norton Secured Seal, Verified by Visa, and Mastercard SecureCode when making payments.
  • Money transfer scams: These scams come in various sizes and shapes. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), some of the scammers pose as people you know asking for emergency assistance. Others may disguise themselves as money transfer company representatives or as people you have sent money to before. Do not send money or give bank account details to people you do not know and report any suspicious activity to the FTC, Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC), and your provider’s fraud department. 
  • Entering wrong details: There is a risk you may enter wrong beneficiary information. This means the transfer will be delivered to a recipient who is not the intended beneficiary. Always double check that the information you’re entering is correct, as if you send money to the wrong account it can be hard to recover.

Is it safe to send money over the internet?

Yes, but only if you use reputable platforms. Thanks to technology advancements and regulatory surveillance, sending money online is safer today than it was years ago, and it keeps getting better. Money transfer companies have taken a lot of precautions to counter fraudulent activities and bolster information security.

Some of the measures include but are not limited to constant audits, stringent data management systems and processes, and deployment of fraud management tools. In the spirit of fighting fraud together, users are also advised to adhere to some basic fraud management guidelines. For UK consumers, the FCA has comprehensive coverage of the guidelines to follow. US customers can get a detailed fraud guidance outline from FinCEN.

What are the safest ways to send money?

Money transfer scams are becoming more sophisticated with time, so it is good to have good knowledge of the safest ways to send money before making a transfer. Platforms are always put on the spot with others pushed to hire ethical hackers to foolproof their systems from within. If you want to send money either overseas or domestically, here are some of the best methods available.

Bank transfers

Bank transfers come in two main forms: bank wire transfers and ACH transfers. In both, the money goes from one bank to another and then to an account. In most jurisdictions, opening a bank account requires submission of legal documents and identity verification processes.

These processes make it a little harder for fraudsters to take advantage of bank transfers. In the case of wire transfers, the SWIFT network, used by banks to send money around the world, is largely considered safe. If you are going to transfer money through a bank account, you should be aware of higher exchange rates and the fact many banks charge fees for sending money abroad. So, although convenient as you can carry out transactions within your online banking, these may not be appropriate.

Online money transfer companies

Online money transfer service providers give users an efficient, inexpensive, and relatively safe way to transfer money across borders or within countries. The transfers may be performed using a web-based platform or a mobile app.  

These companies are regulated by bodies such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). They also have internal safety mechanisms and security protocols that protect users’ information and funds when transferring money.

These companies can save you both time and money and are safe to use as long as you ensure you’re sending your money with a reliable provider. We review all the best online money transfer providers on this site to give you peace of mind on this front. It is possible to use a PayPal account and transfer funds using a PayPal balance, but fees are generally higher and it could take a number of business days to transfer the funds from PayPal to your bank account.

International money orders 

International money orders are relatively simple to use in sending money abroad. To transfer money, the sender is required to provide a photo ID, a signature, and other details. If they happen to get lost on mail, senders can request for cancellation and a reissuance of the money order. 

Compared to bank transfers and money transfer companies, money orders are less regulated hence more exposed to fraud and scams. They can also be stolen and fraudulently cashed (although it is harder to do this with an international money order than with a regular cheque), making a reissuance difficult if not impossible.

Cash

Cash may be convenient as it is the most liquid asset. However, when it comes to security, it is the least secure, as if someone is able to steal the cash you’re transferring, there’s no recourse to get it back.

On the receiving end, beneficiaries picking their money from cash outlets face the same security challenges as the senders. The requirement to provide photo ID, passport or driver’s license to send and receive money may not deter street thieves. If you are sending large sums of money, avoid cash pickups as payout options.

How can I tell if a money transfer platform is safe?

No money transfer platform will admit to being insecure. However, there are certain parameters you can use to assess the level of security of a platform (including reading the reviews on our site). Here are the things to check for:

  • Regulatory oversight: Platforms highly regulated by industry bodies in the various jurisdictions they operate in, are considered safer.
  • Security measures employed: Every money transfer platform outlines various safety measures they have put in place to ensure a safe environment. This includes measures such as SSL encryption, Norton Secured monitoring, and two-factor authentication (2FA) protocols.
  • Identity and document verification: When signing up for products and services with a transfer platform, the provider must conduct document verification. Also, when sending and receiving money the parties involved must have their identities verified.
  • Customer reviews: Customer feedback and reviews on sites such as Trustpilot and social media networks can also give users an idea of what to expect.

How are electronic funds transfers kept secure?

There are several measures that money transfer service providers and banks use to secure the movement of money on their platforms from the sender to the recipient. Here are some of the technologies used.

  • SSL encryption: As your browser attempts to connect to the money transfer operator’s website, the website usually sends a copy of its SSL certificate to your browser. Upon verification, the website establishes a 128 or 256 -bit SSL encrypted session to ensure end-to-end secured connection as you transact.
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA): This is a login security protocol using two different authentication factors- a password and a biometric factor or token to verify your identity. It enhances the level of security.
  • Norton Secured Seal: This is a security layer combining the power of the Norton brand and the VeriSign checkmark. It provides high-security standards ensuring the safety of customer information as they transact.
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance: Providers who accept, store and process card payments need a PCI compliant data hosting platform. This ensures cardholder data is not compromised thus curbing identity theft.
  • Verified by Visa: This is an authentication protocol protected by passwords used to confirm the identity of a Visa cardholder. This applies to providers accepting Visa-branded debit cards or credit cards.
  • Mastercard SecureCode: This is an SMS-delivered one-time-password generated by the card-issuing bank whenever a Mastercard user initiates payment using their card.
  • Safeguarding account: As part of the regulations guiding money transfer operations, companies are required to separate customer funds from money belonging to the firm. This minimises the risk of loss of client funds. 

Are there extra security steps when making international transfers?

The user is expected to take some necessary steps to reduce exposure to fraudulent activities when transferring money. Here are some of the tips to consider.

  • Safety of security details and passwords: Users should not allow anyone to access their online account details including passwords, this is for both platform providers or online banking accounts.
  • Watch out for hoax or spam emails: Clients should identify and delete suspicious emails and any spam emails from unknown sources. Scams can range from emails seeming like they’re from friends in an emergency situation, to people claiming they will transfer you millions if you just make one small payment to help them move the funds.
  • Personal documents security: Ensure documents such as photo IDs, driver’s licenses, passports and others are well secured and only accessible to you or authorised parties. 
  • Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi connections: Making online payments over public networks can expose you to identity compromise. Always use password-protected private networks.
  • Use anti-virus software: It is recommended that you install antivirus software such as Kaspersky, Norton, Bitdefender, F-Secure, among others to guard your device.

Do safer transfers cost more?

Since safer transfers mean additional investment by the money transfer company in security software, they can add to operating costs. However, these costs are priced indirectly into their products through transfer fees, exchange rate margins, and other charges, so you don’t notice them much as a customer.

It is also worth noting that good security is a feature of all reputable platforms, and therefore security costs don’t tend to make different providers significantly more expensive than their competitors.

Will additional safety checks slow down my transfer?

Yes. Mandatory regulatory checks from KYC compliance verification to anti-money laundering (AML) confirmations can delay transfers. However, these are necessary checks for your transfer safety, and in general any electronic transfers take a maximum of 5 days to complete, but are usually faster.

What can I do if I have been scammed?

If you think you have been tricked into transferring money to a fraudster, there are two main steps you can take to try and protect yourself against loss and possibly get a refund.

  • Contact the provider’s help centre: Get in touch with your money transfer operator’s customer support team. If they have an emergency or hotline, use that without delay so that they can try to track and stop the transfer.
  • File a police report: Since a crime has been committed against you, you can report the case to the police or anti-fraud unit in your country or state. In the UK, you should report to Action Fraud while in the US, such cases are reported to the state consumer protection offices. If there is any information needed, liaise with your money transfer company to get all the necessary details.

Some providers may have specific directions for their customers to follow. For instance, Western Union had an active page at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to cater to their users who had been scammed between January 1, 2004, and January 19, 2017.

Money transfer companies do not guarantee that you will get your funds back. However, if the transaction is still within their system or has not been paid out by the receiving bank or cash pickup point, they’ll do everything they can to help.

Summary 

Sending money to another person or making a business transfer locally or internationally is changing as technology improves. Cash-based transfers operators and bank transfers are gradually sharing the pie with emerging online money transfer companies, with the latter gaining more and more influence.

It is now faster, cheaper, and more convenient sending money across borders than it was a decade or so ago. Having said that, the risks involved in money transfers have also transformed. More sophisticated identity theft and fraud incidences have been recorded with a call to both money transfer providers and users to step up their security surveillance systems.

As a user, it is your responsibility to assess the security of the various platforms available to find the safest way to send your funds. Whether you use a bank transfer, online money transfer, or cash-based transfers, you need to check their safety protocols and take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of your transaction. You can visit review sites such as Trustpilot and social media networks, or read money transfer reviews, to see what other users are saying about certain providers, and also check out the reviews here on MoneyTransfers.com which will take you through the security features of each platform.

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