Image: JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Earning money abroad is no easy task. For the average Filipino overseas worker, payday causes both celebration and concern. Not only is it the time when you can send money back home to the Philippines, it’s also the time to worry about your family receiving it safely.

Although there are many methods of transferring funds to your loved ones, they all have their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to picking the safest way, there’s no such thing as a system that’s 100% foolproof, so it’s important to first discuss the inherent dangers involved before trying to counteract them.

Common pitfall 1: Invalid transactions and wrong information

While accidentally sending money to the wrong person is rare, what’s more common is mistyping information that results in an invalid transaction. This means that you’ll have to send the money again, but the problem is that most banks and companies charge a pretty hefty fee for wasting their time. As an expat, you know that every cent counts. What you’ll need is a well-built system that checks for common mistakes and/or one that charges minimally when such mistakes occur.

It also helps to double-check your recipient’s details before attempting a transaction.

Common pitfall 2: Cheque theft

This happens more often than you might think. While it’s illegal for banks to cash cheques that belong to someone else, there’s a thriving underground market in the Philippines that manages to get away with this. In fact, it’s a common complaint for entrepreneurs who receive cheques from international companies like Google and Amazon, since they’re often intercepted along the mail and laundered. Private transactions from expats to their families aren’t immune from this headache either.

Common pitfall 3: Hidden charges

Less-than-stellar companies have become more sophisticated nowadays. Rather than outright scamming people, they manage to find a comfortable loophole that allows them to legally take a little off the top with every transaction. One tactic is to significantly reduce the foreign exchange rate so that, while it appears to the sender that his recipient is going to get the full amount of dollars in pesos, they’re actually receiving far less. Operators take advantage of the fact that expats rarely go out of their way to compute the full conversion price. It’s extremely sneaky, but also extremely widespread.

Common pitfall 4: Phishing

E-mail phishing has gotten so rampant that banks are frequently warning their customers about this menace. What phishers will do is that they will send urgent letters pretending to come from legitimate and well-known companies like PayPal or Western Union, asking the receiver to “update” his financial information. The unsuspecting expat will then be redirected to a website that looks just like the real thing, and once he inputs all his bank details, his money is as good as gone.

Common pitfall 5: Pickpockets

Primitive but still effective, pickpocketing is as alive today as it’s ever been. In their zeal to avoid being duped online, expats might try to deliver the money themselves through a bank or wire transfer, but physically going to the location while carrying a large amount of cash is a recipe for disaster. Even if some common sense might minimize this danger, crooks are still smart, and you can end up being robbed on your way to the money operator. This is definitely not the news that you want to break to your family the next time they call.

But all of this begs the question: what is the safest way to send money to the Philippines?

The safest way: Wire transfer using a company like Ria Money Transfer

Your best method has to counteract all of the five pitfalls discussed above. Obviously, you’ll want to choose something that does not involve having to physically travel in order to avoid being pickpocketed. Second, you’ll need a company that does not communicate primarily through email so that every time you receive a supposed letter from them, you’ll know it’s a phishing attempt and not the real deal. Third, find an honest establishment that does not have unscrupulous hidden charges. Fourth, the money has to be credited digitally through bank or wire transfers and not mailed in the form of cheques. Finally, the information system in place must have sufficient screening so that typographical mistakes are eliminated or reduced as much as possible.

All of this is hard to find in one place. Thankfully, there are still a lot of trustworthy operators if you know where to look, and Ria Money Transfer is one of them. If you want to send money to the Philippines from the UK, Ria allows online transactions using their digital system. They have over 300,000 locations worldwide and is a partner of well-known Philippine corporations like Cebuana Lhuillier, Banco de Oro (BDO), and Mlhuillier, which means that your recipient can utilize these sister companies to pick up their money. A free account with Ria can be created in just under two minutes, and once you fill out an online form, your money will be delivered wirelessly for a minimal transaction fee with no hidden charges.

It’s not easy to send money safely nowadays, but thankfully, Filipinos can still count on reliable services like Ria to get them through tough times and keep their family’s needs met.

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