Spreading word of new money transfer rules

Consumer Action's Jamie Woo spoke out on protections for sending money overseas.
Published: Wednesday, February 05, 2014

According to World Bank statistics, U.S. residents sent more than $50 billion to recipients in other countries in 2012. They also spent millions of dollars in fees to get the money to its destination. Consumer Action’s publications and outreach ensure that people who wire money to their relatives abroad understand their options, potential fees and consumer protections for “remittances.”

In response to changes to remittance rules that took effect last fall, Consumer Action has updated and expanded its popular publication “How to send money home: Tips for transferring money abroad.”

“Hard-working consumers living in the U.S. deserve transparency and essential consumer protections when sending money home,” said Ruth Susswein, Consumer Action’s deputy director of national priorities. “We’re pleased to be able to update one of our most popular resources with new rules, tools and options that will help consumers who transfer funds internationally understand their rights and save money.”

The new rules, issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and outlined in Consumer Action’s publication, direct how remittance services should treat consumers, including:

  • Providing upfront disclosures about fees, the exchange rate and the amount to be received by the recipient;
  • Following prescribed error resolution procedures; and
  • Offering consumers certain refund and cancellation rights.

The updated How to send money home, available in print (English only), online and as a free download, also reflects changes in remittance methods—the greater availability of Internet-based transfer services, for example—and provides links to two tools that enable consumers to compare remittance costs among service providers. How to send money home is also available online in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean.

In time for Chinese New Year

Consumer Action’s community outreach manager Jamie Woo has been alerting Chinese-speaking communities on radio and in print to the new consumer protections for sending money overseas. She has conducted interviews about the new rules in Mandarin and Cantonese on several in-language stations. Late last year, Mandarin-speaking listeners of California station KAZN AM-1300 learned that they now have 30 minutes to cancel an international money transfer. This is one of several new rights under the CFPB remittance rules.

“With the Chinese New Year [on Jan. 31], the timing of the rules was good to let people know about their new rights,” says Woo. “So many people send money home to Mainland China in time to help their relatives celebrate the New Year.”

The CFPB is making information about the new rules available in Spanish, Tagalog, traditional Chinese, Haitian Creole, French, Korean and Vietnamese. (Consumer Action assisted the CFPB in validating the Tagalog and Chinese translations.) Printed copies can be ordered in bulk. The Bureau has said it will continue to develop and produce materials to educate consumers about the new remittance protections.




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