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(ARA) – As criminals get smarter, we all need to watch our money and personal information even more closely. Something as simple and seemingly secure as wiring money to your family is highly vulnerable to financial fraud, depending on the service you use. If you are planning to transfer money in the future, make sure you are protecting yourself.

Wire transfer businesses are often smaller mom-and-pop organizations that are very common in larger cities or areas with high ethnic populations. These businesses are often used by immigrants to send money back to their home countries, also known as remittances.

Worldwide remittances amount to more than $126 billion and have become a considerable force in the economy of many countries, U.S. Immigration Support estimates. Last year alone, Mexico received more than $17 billion in remittances through America-based workers, the highest of all countries.

Panda Security, a leading provider of security software for consumers and businesses, conducted a multi-year study in order to see how secure these types of businesses were. The results are alarming. Panda found that these businesses, numbering approximately 66,000 in the United States alone, are at extremely high risk for cybercrime like personal identity breaches and theft.

Surprisingly, the computers present in more than 300 offices audited by a team of researchers are typically basic computers with very few enhancements or software additions. In repeated visits over the past two years, Panda Security consistently found that trial antivirus software on these machines had long since expired and any kind of proactive security measure was almost always viewed as an unnecessary business expense. In addition, employees at these businesses are frequently minimum wage young adults who spend time chatting, using social networks and visiting chat sites on the very same computers that store sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license records, tax records and credit card information. This results in highly vulnerable systems that are very easy for criminals to attack, according to the report.

Money transfers are a regular part of many Americans’ lives, so it’s important to make sure that you take steps to secure your transaction. Here are some tips that Panda Security suggests you follow if you need to wire money:

  1. Ask the wire transfer agent what security measures are in place to ensure the confidentiality of your personal information.
  2. Make sure you understand what anti-fraud measures are in place at the receiving location in order to safeguard your money.
  3. Call your beneficiary immediately after sending money so that it can be picked up before interception is likely to occur.
  4. Try to send remittances before common dates such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc.

  5. Find out if there is any insurance if the transfer is intercepted. If not, consider using a service that provides this.

  6. Be sure to ask around to determine whether a shop has a good track record before going there to complete your transaction.

  7. If making the transaction yourself from a computer, visit “Infected or Not” ( and run a free scan of the computer to ensure that it is virus and threat-free.

For all businesses geared towards U.S. immigrant money transfer, Panda Security recommends having an up-to-date anti-malware suite in place that is set to scan regularly. To get a complimentary security consultation from Panda Security or obtain a copy of their recent study, businesses can visit .

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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