P2P Payment Scams
This time of year, scams using P2P apps, or “person to person” payment apps such as Cash App, Venmo, Zelle, Meta Pay, etc. are on the rise. While these types of apps are generally secure and convenient to use, here are some scams to be on the lookout for – including some do’s and don’ts to protect yourself, courtesy of the American Bankers Association.
Common P2P service scam scenarios:
- A scammer sends you a text message using the P2P company’s fonts and brand colors to make the message appear authentic, and the message asks you to follow a link and enter personal information to verify your account to receive a payment. The problem is that the link redirects you to a fraudulent site. If you fall for this scam and enter your debit/credit card or bank account number, the scammer can steal your info and use it for fraudulent activity.
- Fraudsters may reach out claiming to represent a fraud department or merchant and ask you to confirm information such as your bank account username and password, credit card or debit card data, or Social Security number. But DO NOT share this information – scammers want to create a P2P account with your information, steal your identity, and gain access to your accounts.
- Scammers posing as a legitimate business may request a P2P payment for a product or service. Once they receive your money, you never receive what you paid for and they disappear. This is also a common scam for individuals selling items on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc. If possible, do not pay for items purchased from individuals online before receiving the item!
- You accept a work-from-home position and the new company sends you a check to deposit, then asks you to send all or part of the funds to someone else using a P2P service. DO NOT deposit the check – the company is likely a scam and the check will bounce, leaving you on the hook for the amount of the fake deposit.
- A scammer “accidentally” sends you money on a P2P app and asks you to send the money back. NEVER send the money back; instead, contact the P2P service about the error and let them resolve the issue. Criminals’ accounts usually use stolen funds that the P2P payment service will eventually flag as fraud. If you send the money back to the scammer, the P2P service could take funds out of your account or hold you responsible.
- Con artists may ask to borrow your phone to text someone for a contrived emergency. DO NOT hand over your phone to strangers, as they could make financial transfers using your payment apps and accounts.
10 do’s and don’ts to protect yourself:
- DON’T send money to someone you don’t know or have never met in person.
- DON’T share bank authentication or verification numbers or your personal information with anyone who contacts you, even if the caller ID indicates it’s a familiar company. Keep your account usernames and passwords, SSN, and bank account, debit, and credit card information to yourself. If you’re pressured or have any concerns, hang up and contact your financial institution directly using the number on the back of your card or on your monthly statement.
- DON’T let any strangers persuade you to send money to yourself or anyone else.
- DON’T let anyone you don’t know borrow your phone.
- DON’T do a Google search for customer service phone numbers. Scammers have created fake websites with toll free numbers that connect to them. Only call your financial institution or the P2P service companies using the number on the back of your card or monthly statement, or found within the P2P app itself. Many P2P apps also have other in-app methods for contacting them.
- DO be sure to know and trust the other party who’s receiving your money. Confirm the name, email, phone number, or applicable identifier when you transfer money. If you make a mistake – even one wrong digit – you will send your money to someone else who may not give it back. Just like handing someone cash, you financial institution typically can’t get it back for you.
- DO set up alerts to notify you of any transactions on your accounts.
- DO enable multi-factor authentication for all accounts and do not share the verification codes with anyone, including anyone contacting you claiming to be your financial institution.
- DO ensure that any banking app or P2P app that you use is updated so it is secure.
- DO be wary of accessing any financial or personal information on public wi-fi or mobile hotspots. They often lack security and hackers can capture sensitive personal information on these open servers.
More useful information regarding common Venmo scams can be found here. If you are concerned that you may have fallen victim to one of these P2P service scams, please contact us right away! Our Member Advocate Specialists can help you identify if there has been fraud on your account, and Cutting Edge offers free identity theft recovery services for all members and their families.