There are 183.5 million users in the peer-to-peer money transfer segment today and this number is expected to reach 189.2 million by 2023. In the light of this, it’s all the more horrifying to consider that Americans alone lost over $905 million to fraud in 2017 according to a report issued by Federal Trade Commission. The majority of that money went to online money transfer scams, and some losses occurred due to fraudulent money transfer companies.
Therefore, if you plan on making an international money transfer, be it for personal purposes or for your business, you have to make sure the company you use is trustworthy. To do this you’ll need to study it in great detail.
There are five aspects to keep in mind before deeming a money transfer company trustworthy-legitimate registration, blatant transparency, top-notch security and encryption, a user-friendly website and/or app, and at least one physical office.
It is important to note that money can be sent internationally safely and securely via wire transfer as well. This can be done wherever you do your banking. If you do not have a banking account, you can compare the checking account options available to you online.
However, if your bank of choice does not offer this option, or they charge too much in fees, or you simply prefer to use an international money transfer company in general, then it is vital to choose a company that is going to get your money from Point A to Point B safely, securely, and as fast as possible.
5 Things to Look at When Deciding If a Money Transfer Company Is Trustworthy
Money transfer companies aren’t subject to the same legal requirements as banks. In fact, they aren’t closely regulated at all, so using them is inherently risky. Therefore, the first thing you should always check is which regulatory authorities the service is registered with.
You also need to find out which regulatory bodies are responsible for financial organizations in your country so you know which ‘registrations’ truly matter. For example, in the UK, any money transfer service has to be certified by the Financial Conduct Authority and listed in the official FCA register. FCA-authorized firms need to keep your money safe by not keeping it with company funds. In the same way, RBI and SEBI are the two main financial services regulators in India.
Any money transfer company you consider using must have at least this level of legitimate credentials in your country. If it’s not registered in your country, take your time to research exactly what it’s legal standing there is. You need to focus on determining how protected you are by the law when dealing with this business. This is essential to understand the level of liability the company holds within your legal reach.
The most common way for unreliable money transfer companies to cheat you out of your money is by using hidden fees. Those are usually hidden deep in the fine print of Terms and Conditions and you can’t do anything about them after you agree to a transaction. Therefore, transparency with the fees and overall process of the money transfer is a feature that proves a company’s trustworthiness better than anything.
Note that this kind of detailed information might not be listed on the company’s website itself. However, it must be included in the Terms and Conditions. You need to study that page very carefully to see exactly how much you will be charged for transactions. The average money transfer fee today is 7.4%. The main advantage of using money transfer companies is that they offer a lower fee. However, this is also the reason why some of them succeed in cheating their clients. Therefore, don’t let yourself fall for an offer of the lowest fee.
3. Security level
Any trustworthy money transfer company today must use bank-grade encryption at the least. However, there are additional digital security measures you should be looking for, like two-step authorization and notifications for any actions happening to your account.
In the majority of cases, you’ll need to connect this account with your primary bank account. This means should the company get hacked, you might lose all your money. Therefore, it’s essential to inquire about all digital security measures the company uses. They might not be listed directly on the website, so ask this question when dealing with customer support.
4. App & Website
Money transfer companies mostly operate online. Therefore, it’s their digital ‘representation’ that you need to evaluate in order to assess their professionalism. First of all, you need to see if the company has a mobile app. In fact, you should consider starting your search for a trustworthy provider by studying the list of the best mobile money transfer apps. All leading services offer one and you can get a good idea of how reliable the provider is by studying the app’s rating and review. You should also take a look at testimonials on Google Play or iTunes to see honest opinions from users.
Money transfer companies don’t require a physical office to operate. However, they should have at least one as proof that the company in question is a legitimate business with appropriate registration and address.
You should look for that address on the website. If there is none, consider this to be your first warning bell. However, be sure to contact the customer support service and inquire about the office before you decide the company is untrustworthy. Sometimes, offices aren’t listed because the company operates online only and thus doesn’t run any transfers from its office, thus it’s open for staff only.
More Questions to Ask While Choosing an International Money Transfer Service
- Does the company have access to The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication(SWIFT)?
- How much experience does the company have? (Years in business and amount of money transferred by the service)
- Where does the money transfer service ‘keep’ your money? (It needs to go to segregated client trust accounts)
- Is the company audited and if so is there any proof?
- Is the company insured? (What will happen to your money should something happen to the business?)
- Can you learn something about the team you entrust with your money?
- Have there been any fraud-related scandals in the company’s history?
- How fast are the transfers going through this service? Timing is important. You can feel it in a volatile market.
- Does the company provide 24/7 customer support?
- Does the company offer special terms if you need to make transfers often, for example, every other day?
A money transfer company that can be trusted must be legal, transparent, and reliable. It has to offer legitimate proof of its security and it must have a good reputation with the users. Always take your time to research every detail about the company. If there is anything that seems even a little suspicious, bet on the side of caution and choose a different provider.
You should also start with a small transfer to see exactly how it goes before making any big transactions. This kind of ‘test drive’ isn’t a very good safeguard, but it’s a way to minimize the risks, and you should use every available option to do this.