Mobile payment apps can be a convenient way to send or receive funds from the people in your life. However, you’ll want to be cautious when you’re fulfilling or initiating a request from someone you don’t know. Scammers are using mobile payment apps as a method of payment now.
What are mobile payment apps and how do they work?
Apps like Venmo, CashApp, or Zelle link with your bank account and can enable you to send or receive money to and from anyone you choose. When you receive a payment, that money doesn’t go straight to your bank account. Instead, you’re given a few options what you want to do with the money.
- You can leave the money in your account as a balance in the app,
- you can send the money you receive to someone,
- or you can transfer your balance in the app to your bank account.
While having an app to send and receive money is convenient, having quick access to your money isn’t always a good thing. It’s easy to become careless when sending money is something that becomes common. Scammers take advantage of this and come up with ways to trick their victims into sending them money.
Things to do to avoid sending money to the wrong person
Anytime you’re sending money to someone, make sure that the name of the user is right by double-checking:
- their email address
- their phone number
- their username.
How to avoid sending money to a scammer
Schemes for mobile payment apps are similar to the schemes scammers have been using for years to trick people into sending them money. They may say something like:
- you have won a prize and you need to pay a fee to collect your winnings
- a loved one is in trouble and needs you to send money to help
- you owe taxes to the IRS
- they’re from a tech support company and need to fix a problem with your computer
- they’re romantically interested in you and need money
Scammers want you to pay them in a way that’s fast and easy and makes it hard for you to get your money back. This is why they will often choose to have you pay in gift cards or wire money.
With mobile payment apps becoming more popular, it’s becoming more common for scammers to request payment through those apps. If you get an unexpected request (through email, SMS, or another method) to send money from someone, don’t click on any links that are contained in the message.
What can you do if you sent money to a scammer?
If you didn’t catch the scam on time and ended up sending money to a scammer, report the scam to the mobile payment app right away and ask them to reverse the transaction. They may not be able to, but it’s worth a try to get your money back.