Tips to Safely Use Mobile Payment Services

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Mobile payment services, such as Venmo, Cash App, and Zelle, have become very popular, and for good reason. They can be used to conveniently send and receive money from friends, family, landlords, and even for goods and services. Sadly, scammers have focused their attention on exploiting mobile payment apps and swindling consumers of their hard-earned cash. These scammers are very creative in making up stories to trick people into sending them money. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers may say things like:

  • You won a prize/sweepstakes and need to pay some fees to collect it.
  • A loved one is in trouble, and they need you to send money.
  • You owe taxes to the IRS.
  • They're from tech support and need money to fix a problem with your computer.
  • They're someone who is romantically interested in you and needs some money.

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Here are a few helpful tips to safely use P2P mobile payment services:

► Only send payments to people you trust and avoid paying someone for something promised to you in the future, especially if you do not know them.
Using a payment app is not like using a credit or debit card. Typically, if there's a fraudulent charge on your credit or debit card, you can dispute it with your financial institution, and they will investigate to determine if you can get your money back. But, this is not the case with mobile payment apps, and your financial institution is not required to cover any losses you may experience from P2P mobile payment transactions.

► Make it a best practice to double-check the recipient's username to ensure it's correct! Most payments are instant and usually cannot be canceled.
Taking an extra step to ensure you send funds to the intended recipient will save you from experiencing any unnecessary hardship.

► Never provide anyone with your pin or login information or card number.
If any vendor asks you for such information, it's a red flag! Scammers often attempt to gain access to accounts by pretending to be a customer service representative.

► Verify the contact information for support. If you ever need to contact support, be sure you call the number directly listed on the website or within the app.
Some apps, like Cash App, do not have a direct customer support phone number. They only have an automated support line, or you can get help using their in-app support service.

► Set up the security features on your phone and for the app. They are there to help protect your privacy.
Consider using biometric authentication login, like fingerprinting or face recognition. Setting up two-factor authentications and transaction notices are great security features to help keep your account safe. 

► If you believe you may have sent money to a scammer, report it to the mobile payment app immediately and ask them to reverse the transaction.
Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission, so they can use the information to help build cases against scammers.

For more resources related to fraud or identity theft protection tips, search the Balance Library. Balance is Viriva's financial education partner.